It’s easy to get overwhelmed by big resolutions. When it comes to setting goals: the smaller and clearer, the better. We talked to our Head Nutritionist Brooke to get her top 9 tips to help you tackle healthy eating in 2019. The ultimate goal is finding positive changes you can live with for the sake of your long-term health.
1. Choose whole foods whenever you can.
As a general guideline, it’s good to eat food that’s closest to its most natural form. When given the choice, opt for the single-ingredient food—it’s probably going to be less processed (apples don’t have nutrition labels, after all!).
2. Reduce sugar intake in steps.
Be on the lookout for “sneaky” sugar sources. As a first small step, start looking at how much sugar you’re consuming by paying attention to labels. Then cut back in small steps, like trading sugary beverages for sparkling water or swapping dessert for fruit. You’ll probably find that the less sugar you eat, the less you’ll crave it. (Check out #9 for more incentive to cut sugar!)
3. Eat more veggies.
Did you know that less than 10% of Americans eat the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables per day? The most commonly consumed veggies are potatoes and tomatoes (yes, this includes fries). Veggies are the most nutrient-dense foods to add to your diet, providing all of the important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help protect your health for the long haul.
TAKEAWAY TIP: Add one serving of veggies to each meal you eat, and see how this affects how you feel.
4. Eat the rainbow!
Speaking of veggies… The colors in veggies are related to the different vitamins and antioxidants present, so eating a variety of colors ensures you’re getting a variety of nutrients. (For example, beta carotene, a form of vitamin A, is found in your yellow, orange, and red fruits and veggies—think peppers, sweet potatoes, squashes, melon.)
5. Find better-for-you swaps.
Eating better doesn’t mean you have to cut out the flavors you love. At Freshly, we try to find fun and tasty ways to save carbs—cauliflower rice replaces white rice, spaghetti squash replaces pasta, veggies stand in for added potato. Start by making a list of your faves and search for recipes that clean that up a bit (or we can do it for you!).
6. Try a meatless Monday.
If you’re looking for a small way to change up your diet or get more veggies, see how reducing meat feels for your body. Challenge yourself to fill that space with plant-based proteins, like chickpeas or quinoa.
7. Track how you feel.
It’s pretty common for people to track their food intake—it can help us achieve our goals in many ways. But how often do you connect what you eat to how you feel? We’re more likely to make better food choices when we know what impact they have on us, but it’s important to tune into the short-term impact as much as the long-term. Noting how a meal or a day of meals affects everything from changes in appetite, energy levels, mood, digestion to “flare-ups” of other symptoms we might have (like headaches, joint pain, skin rashes, etc.).
Be aware that symptoms may occur within a day or two, and not necessarily immediately after eating something. Over time you’ll be able to notice patterns. Pay attention particularly to days where you eat more sugar or carbohydrates.
8. Go with your gut.
Research is beginning to link gut health to many of our body’s other functions, including brain health, food cravings. Poor gut health is even linked to skin health: think acne, eczema, psoriasis, and even wrinkles. One simple way you can improve digestion and support gut health is by maintaining adequate fiber in the diet. Fiber helps feed “good bacteria” (AKA probiotics) in the gut. To get more fiber, up your intake of veggies (see above) or incorporate more whole grains (brown rice, quinoa) and beans. The FDA recommends you hit 28 grams a day.
9. Mind your brain.
We’re now aware that the foods we eat impact our brain in both the short and long-term. What we eat might trigger short-term symptoms, like poor mental clarity, focus, and memory. Over the long-term, what we eat has been linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions. For example, high intakes of sugar have been linked to poor brain health over the long-term.
Start minding your brain health by reducing sugar intake and increasing foods that support the brain, like omega-3s and other healthy fats, which play a critical role in supporting the brain (our brain is made of ⅔ fat!). Read more about omega-3s here.
Along with these tips, don’t forget to get your Freshly meals every week. There’s no easier way to eat better in the New Year!