How to Set Yourself up for Success With Healthy Eating All Year Long—No Dieting Required
Sophia Roe is a healthy-food chef, beauty guru, and frequent Well+Good contributor. This January, she's here to arm you with tricks and tips to make healthy eating year-round a cinch—no dieting, juice cleanses, or restrictions of any kind required. Keep reading for her sage (and empowering) advice.
Let me be up front about something right away: I'm not a fan of the whole "new year, new me" thing. Not only is it super played out, but it's also not very realistic. It sort of implies that whoever you are when December rolls around needs a complete overhaul.
I think “reset, reevaluate, and restart” is a better approach. The first of the year is an excellent time to form a clear idea of what you envision for yourself, without using language like “lose weight," "work out every single day," or "become a vegan overnight.” It's not that there's anything wrong with those goals; they just don't do a very good job of laying out a plan of intention.
What works better is honing in on statements that aren't layered with self-deprecation. Some of my faves: "I want to be more active this year." "I want to learn a new way to move my body." Or, "I want to cook at home more frequently." A plan with simple and actionable tasks is the best way to keep your “reset, reevaluate, and restart” plan on track.
Over the next four weeks, I'm going to arm you with the tools you need in order to set yourself up for year-round healthy-eating success—whatever that looks like for you. Consider this your playbook full of moves to turn to when you need 'em (like when you get home from work late and instinctively start snacking on whatever's within arm's reach). Along the way, you'll grow to feel like the badass, confident woman you truly are. You ready? Let's do this!
Week 1: Overhaul your pantry
The best way to kick off any reset is to evaluate your starting point.
Tip 1: Toss anything that doesn't make you feel good
Take note of what's currently in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer that you know will either sit in there forever or will make you feel like crap after you eat it. Get rid of those things, and also anything that you have no idea where it came from or what it is. (Looking at you, mystery meat.)
Tip 2: Make healthy swaps in your pantry and fridge
Now that your kitchen is all cleaned out, you have room for go-to healthy substitutes to use in your fave meals. If you're big into baking, replace white sugar with coconut sugar. If diet soda is the vice you just can't quit, stock your fridge with kombucha and sugar-free sparkling water to satisfy that craving for something bubbly. Fill your crisper with fresh herbs and greens so you have them on hand to make quick salads. That way, you know you have something quick to make and you won't reach for processed foods so readily.
Giving your pantry a healthy overhaul ensures you have what you need to feel amazing. Whatever your healthy eating goals are for the year, you're off to a fresh start.
Week 2: Master your morning
When I was in second grade, my teacher said something that stuck with me: "If you start things on a good note, they'll almost always end well." It definitely rings true to me that starting the day with a mindful habit leads to better choices throughout the day. It's like a healthy domino effect.
Tip 1: Chug water first thing
One of the easiest ways to give your body some love right after you wake up is to drink 12 to 16 ounces of water—bonus points if you squeeze some lemon in there. Think about it: You've been asleep for (hopefully) eight long hours, and your body needs hydration!
Tip 2: Do one thing for yourself every morning
I also love creating a signature morning ritual. For me, this means waking up, gulping down my H2O, spraying my half-asleep face with some rose water, groggily walking over to the stove to put the kettle on for my favorite Earl Grey tea and oat milk blend, and quietly sitting in my kitchen for a few minutes. Starting your day with healthy habits like these will absolutely have a positive impact on how you feel and the choices you’ll make throughout the day.
Week 3: Master 3 go-to sauces
Having a few different yummy sauces on hand is my absolute favorite way to set myself up with healthy eating success. Not only is it an easy way to be in total control of what’s in your food, but it’s also the best way to make things taste exactly the way you want. I think everyone should have a list of go-to sauces to use in various ways throughout the week. That way, even though you’re eating at home, you still have options flavor-wise.
Tip 1: Recycle jars you already have for storage
To store your sauces, you can use mason jars or even empty almond butter jars—almost any empty glass bottle will work.
Tip 2: Keep your herbs fresh by storing them in water
Don't be scared to put your greens and herbs directly into water, just as you would flowers in a vase. It may sound silly, but it's one of my favorite ways to keep leafy green vegetables fresh and crisp. And you know what? Greens are pretty darn beautiful!
Tip 3: Wait to chop your veggies
Don’t cut tomatoes, cucumbers, or anything with high water content ahead of time. Save your cut prep for those ingredients for right before you’re about to eat. That way, they won’t get soggy or wilted.
Because I'm doing ReNew Year right along with you, I'll be sharing the recipes for my own personal go-to sauces—so stay tuned! In the meantime, here are a few to get started with from Well+Good Wellness Council member McKel Hill, RD.
Week 4: Master your go-to meals for busy nights
I think most of us lose sight of our "reset, reevaluate, restart" on those super-busy nights or long work weeks. We get home exhausted and do what's easiest: takeout. But when you know exactly what you can make in less time than it takes to watch a rerun of Friends, you're less likely to place an order for lo mein or pizza. That's where having a short list of quick, easy go-to meals comes in handy.
Tip 1: Prep your protein
You already have your pantry full of healthy ingredients and your sauces prepped. Just add a protein that you know can be cooked in less than 30 minutes, and voilà! Only have 10 minutes to whip up dinner? Why not sauté up some shallots, tomatoes, garlic, and your favorite beans for a quick “beans on toast”? Satisfying and easy! Or maybe you'd rather stir-fry some brown rice noodles, veggies, and a homemade teriyaki sauce? I'll be sharing my favorite 30-minutes-or-less recipes later this month, so be sure to check back.
Tip 2: Use herbs to boost the flavor of a dish
One of the easiest ways to elevate a dish—even something simple like beans on toast—is to add some fresh herbs. Luckily for you, you've already got some on-hand in your fridge.
As you move through the rest of the year, just remember: You already know what you need to accomplish your healthy eating goals. If you get off track, this playbook is something you can keep coming back to. The simple actions of overhauling your pantry, mastering your morning, having healthy sauces on hand, and developing a few go-to quick healthy recipes are all habits there for you anytime you need them. And they can all help you live your happiest, healthiest life ever.
If you’re feeling inspired to dive even deeper into how to make real, lasting change in 2019, check out our ReNew Year program for endless inspo.
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