The new year is a great time to reaffirm and rededicate our commitments to our health, especially in the area of nutrition. After the indulgences of the holiday season, a good diet reset helps to shake off hibernation mode. But promising to make huge changes can be overwhelming and discouraging. Instead, these 7 simple strategies can encourage you to take a positive step toward overall wellness.
- Little Changes Matter. Making a drastic shift can be so daunting. Embrace gradual change. You can add a piece of fruit to your breakfast, bake that chicken dinner instead of frying it, have a salad with lunch a few nights a week. Celebrate those small victories, because they do add up!
- Acknowledge Limitations, and Work With Them! Everybody’s got a reason (or two or three) why they feel stuck in a rut. Too busy, not enough money–think of these as parameters, not limitations. Don’t have a lot of spare time? Then prewashed salad greens and frozen fruit to toss into smoothies may be your saving grace. Trying to pack nutrition on a budget? Then seasonal produce, bulk dry goods, and Grocer’s Specials are a feasible place to start. A plan catered to your specific situation can empower you instead of discouraging your efforts.
- There Is No One Right Diet Philosophy. Vegan. Low Carb. Paleo. Clean eating. Nutrition is not one size fits all. Some people have tremendous success adopting a popular way of eating, while others need to do more searching. Listen to your body. Do you have the energy you need? How is your gut functioning? Does regular lab work reveal any deficiencies? Honor your body and its specific needs.
- Invest Wisely. Eating well does not require a million gadgets or costly tools. Some gadgets or appliances may be useful–like a slow cooker or a good cast iron skillet–but you don’t have to shell out thousands for a kitchen renovation. Garage sales and thrift stores are good places to piece together a well-stocked kitchen, as well as online auction sites. Be sure to check return policies before any purchases, just in case appliances are no longer in proper working order. Another great idea is including kitchenware on registries for weddings or engagements if you happen to be headed down the aisle. Also, don’t be shy to make requests known when asked what you’d like or need for college, birthdays, or other special occasions. You may even have relatives who would like to combine their efforts to furnish you with one gift, like a restaurant-quality blender.
- Be a student! There is a wealth of information available to support you as you choose the path to better nutrition that suits your body and your lifestyle. Find a few blogs you like, maybe a chef or dietician, and a favorite cookbook (the library has plenty!), and learn all the tricks, tips, and ideas you can! Even if you are a novice cook, immersing yourself in food will help you pick up the techniques. Learn and practice!
- Seek an ally–BE an ally. Close friends or relatives on a similar wellness path can be such good sources of support, knowledge, and accountability while you’re trying to adopt new habits. Instead of heading out to the bar or a restaurant, why not host a potluck where people can bring healthy dishes and recipe cards to share? You’ll have the same great time, be satisfied with healthier choices, and take away new great ideas and favorite dishes.
- DRINK MORE WATER. Instead of trying to subtract extra drinkable calories all at once (be they sodas, lattes, or alcohol), try focusing first on simply adding more water. Even just a large glass of water upon waking does wonders to refresh, detoxify, and reawaken your body. Have another big glass between meals and another glass and hour or so after dinner. Then try replacing your lunchtime Coke with water. Then make one of those morning cups of coffee a mug of warm water with lemon or white tea. Before long, you will be so hydrated and energized, you will find the craving for caffeinated or high-sugar drinks has diminished greatly
Well wishes to you as you take positive steps toward greater health, nourishment, and wellness!
Loren Shelton is a homemaker and stay-at-home mother currently residing in San Antonio, TX. Her personal wellness path has included eliminating allergens from her family’s diet, jogging and stroller walks, and finding the peace of being an imperfect woman.