It seems like New Years resolutions have become a bit passe, but I would still argue that many of us look for some sort of healthy reset at the start of each new year. And let’s be honest: eating healthy consistently is really hard to do! It’s a choice, an active decision we have to make over and over and over again, at every meal. As mothers, we are further challenged by unhealthy snacks that are easily accessible, and wine is typically calling our name by the early evening.
But if you are looking for a way to make a change, here are some plans and tips for people wanting to eat more nutritiously this new year.
- The 80/20 plan: This plan is all about eating in moderation. The goal is to make 80% of your food intake come from whole foods, nothing processed or with added sugar. The other 20%? Up to you. This works well for people who need a little wiggle room or who just can’t commit to eating healthy 100% all the time. It also encourages you to start planning ahead, so that you know what meals are coming up and when you can indulge in your 20%.
- One small dessert a day. This is one of my favorites. Sometimes we sabotage ourselves because we say NO DESSERTS EVER, which is really difficult to maintain, and then we cheat and feel defeated. With this mentality, it helps avoid indulging in other treats throughout the day because you know you get to have one small sweet later.
- Cheat days: With this approach, people allow themselves one day per week where they can eat what they want. This makes surviving a week of healthy eating more manageable, knowing you can splurge one day on the weekend. It also helps you survive special events like weddings, fancy dinners, birthdays, etc.
- The “Let’s Wait Til Tomorrow To Indulge” approach: This is the opposite mentality of what most of us have been taught. Instead of saying, “this is the last piece of chocolate I’ll have for the rest of the month”, this technique encourages you to procrastinate. Try instead saying, “I don’t really need this snack right now, why don’t I wait til tomorrow.” Then the next day, you try it again. See the pattern here? I like it because it eliminates the pressure of “Never again”, which I feel subconsciously makes us want something even more.
- Hard core cut out all the junk and go for it: aka something like the Whole 30 or Paleo. This can be a very intense process, and required a whole separate post to describe. But if you’re ready for a major food overhaul, this may be for you.
- Intermittent Fasting: this is a newer phenomenon that sounds a little crazy but seems to have a fair bit of data supporting its effectiveness. The basic principle is you still eat the same amount of total calories per day, but within a smaller time frame. This author theorizes that giving your pancreas a 12 hour break or “fast” allows your insulin levels to drop to healthy levels, which makes you less likely to store fat. Please be sure to consult with a physician before trying this.
- High Fat Low carb (HFLC): This is the newest “trend” in what foods to eat or not eat. The argument here is to focus on a Mediterranean diet higher in healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts, and greek yogurt, and avoiding processed carbohydrates and sugars.
Regardless of which type of change you want to make, remember these tips to increase your likelihood for success:
- Remove the temptations. If you are cutting out sugar, alcohol, or other tempting foods, get them out of the house! Why make something harder by staring at it all day in your pantry? If you have kids, like many of us do, you can ask your partner to hide the incriminating foods so that they are at least out of sight.
- Enlist support. Having a partner in crime to hold you accountable makes this a lot more sustainable. The easy choice would be your spouse, but if he or she isn’t interested, then consider a friend, sibling or co-worker.
- Don’t starve yourself, ever. This technique has never proven to be effective in the long run, and is downright unsafe. Focus on finding healthy eating habits that fit your lifestyle and are sustainable long term.
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(This post was originally published on Mid-Peninsula Mom’s Blog on Monday, January 8th, 2018)