Getting healthier is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. However, turning over a new leaf can be hard to do if your goals are too big or too strict. Choosing an easy, realistic New Year’s resolution can help you achieve your goal of attaining and maintaining good health. Here are 10 simple New Year’s resolutions to try:
1. Eat More Produce
The single easiest way to make your diet healthier is to eat more fruits and vegetables. There are a bunch of ways to increase your intake, such as taking a piece of fruit with you to work or adding a handful of spinach to your scrambled eggs.
2. Drink More Water
Drinking more water helps your body with a variety of functions, such as proper digestion and keeping your skin healthy. An easy way to stick to this resolution is to buy a reusable water bottle (such as a large stainless steel or glass bottle) and refill it as many times as needed to get your recommended 64 ounces of water per day.
3. Eat Breakfast Regularly
It’s easy to skip breakfast when you’re busy, especially if it allows you to snooze for an extra five minutes. Keep in mind, you don’t have to cook yourself a fancy omelette to be healthy. A piece of fruit, a cup of nonfat yogurt or some whole wheat toast with peanut butter can be just enough to get your metabolism going.
4. Skip Sugary Drinks
Sugar-sweetened beverages add extra calories without adding very much nutrition. Also, sugar in liquid form is absorbed much faster by your body. This leads to blood sugar spikes that can cause an energy crash later. Skipping the sugary drinks is a quick way to reduce the amount of empty calories you consume.
5. Pack Your Lunch More Often
Eating meals that you prepare yourself makes it much easier to maintain good health. Foods prepared at restaurants generally have high amounts of sodium, and dishes are usually served in super-sized portions. Packing your lunch more often will help reduce the amount of sodium and calories you consume, and it will save you money.
6. Eat Real Food
Cutting out processed foods is another quick way to reduce the amount of sodium and unhealthy fats in your diet. As a general rule of thumb, eat food made in a kitchen, not in a laboratory. Processed foods can be full of chemical additives, which can lead to a variety of health problems. Choose whole foods to avoid any unwanted ingredients.
7. Make Easy Swaps
Small, healthy substitutions add up to big health benefits in the long run. A few quick, healthy swaps:
- Pick a side of vinaigrette dressing instead of creamy ones like ranch and Thousand Island.
- Use nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Choose poultry or fish instead of beef and pork.
- Order iced tea or water with lemon instead of soda or lemonade.
8. Listen to Your Belly
Portions are hard to keep in check, especially when you’re hungry. If you go many hours between meals, you’re more likely to overeat when you finally have some food. Your goal should be to avoid getting too full or too hungry. Keep snacks around, like nuts and fruit, to maintain your blood sugar levels throughout the day. In addition, keep portion sizes in check to avoid going overboard at mealtimes.
9. Eat Smarter
Contrary to what some fad diets suggest, there’s no one bad food group. When it comes to proteins, fats and carbs, there are simply more nutritious and less nutritious options. For example:
- Choose complex carbs like whole grains (brown rice, whole grain bread, barley, quinoa) instead of refined carbs (white rice, white bread).
- Use healthy fats like olive and canola oil instead of saturated fats like butter.
- Pick leaner proteins like tofu, beans, fish and poultry instead of heavier proteins like beef and pork.
10. Sit Down to Eat
Sitting down to eat without any distractions can help towards increasing your enjoyment and satisfaction in eating your food. When you’re more satisfied with what you’ve eaten, you’re less likely to overeat and have unhealthy cravings.
Bobby has a degree in nutrition and dietetics and previously worked as a health educator.
This blog post was originally published on December 29, 2013. It was last updated on December 17, 2016.