It’s officially the new year, and with that brings about 23942309482094383240984 articles, posts, and advertisements about how you need to change your body to be happy, or only eat raw vegetables for the next 3 months, or exercise for hours every single day of the week or all will be lost.
But guess what?
You don’t have to do any of that.
The new year brings renewed commitment to living a healthier lifestyle – I mean, I know I too am ready to grab a few more salads than I did during the holiday madness, just because that’s what my body is craving – but if you go into the new year with a very rigid or overwhelming (“I’m going to change EVERYTHING and be perfect starting today”) approach to nutrition or wellness, it won’t be sustainable.
Something that my AnneTheRD nutrition coaching clients have mentioned they really like about working with me is that rather than focusing on what they shouldn’t eat, or what they should remove from their diets, we instead talk about what to ADD.
photo credit: Taylor and Ben Photography
I’ve shared this post previously but wanted to update it and share it again because I think it’s so important.
Because here’s the thing – there’s no reason to cut out sugar or wine or bread or whatever it is that article told you to do to be healthy.
That’s the quickest way to end up feeling deprived – which will later end up with you finding yourself face down in a pan of brownies (or whatever it is you were trying to avoid).
(See also: Why I Don’t Recommend Whole30)
So instead of doing that, how about we focus on simply adding in more foods and things this year that will make you feel really good physically, but in a balanced, sustainable way?
Here are some examples, but I encourage you to come up with others that resonate with you personally.
Try implementing them one at a time, only adding another one once the one before it feels like a sustainable habit!
1) Add more veggies to your meals.
This does not mean you have to eat a salad – for example, if you’re a sandwich fan and not really into salads, simply add some veggies onto your sandwich, or raw on the side! I love broccoli slaw on sandwiches – crunchy and it doesn’t change the flavor. (Check out my Healthy Sandwich Recipes post for more ideas!)
I also love adding lots of veggies to pasta dishes (check out my mix + match easy pasta recipes guide for some inspiration) – the added volume makes it so much more satisfying (and colorful)!
Another old favorite tip: serve your dinners atop some wilted baby spinach – just microwave the spinach for 30 to 45 seconds on high and it will wilt down nicely for you.
2) Add more protein and fat to breakfast.
Seriously, guys – there’s nothing wrong with carbs unless we are ONLY eating carbs by themselves (I’m looking at you, piece of fruit, or instant oatmeal with water, or bagel) without any protein and fat to give the meal (or snack) staying power.
Do yourself a favor and have a breakfast that doesn’t leave you starving by 10 a.m. I share some recipes below that will help with this, and also be sure to see my Tips for Fast Weekday Breakfasts post.
3) Add a carb to lunch.
I see this mistake time and time again with new clients – they try to be “good” and skip the carb at lunch, only to have serious sugar cravings in the afternoon.
Be intentional about adding a carb to lunch – and even enjoying it!
4) Add an afternoon snack.
Not being hangry will make your day much less stressful – as will being able to calmly prepare dinner rather than just frantically grabbing whatever you see first.
Not getting too hungry also makes it much easier to be mindful of eating slowly and not ending the meal too full. There are some snack ideas below, and also be sure to check out my no bake snack ball recipe formula to easily mix + match to your heart’s content!
5) Add more water throughout the day.
I carry a water bottle with me EVERYWHERE so I don’t forget.
6) Add one extra workout per week (unless you are already doing workouts most days – rest days are important, too, so in that case add a rest day!).
If you enjoy it, consider adding another – and if you don’t, try something else. No point in forcing it.
Exercise should be your fun “me time” – something that removes rather than adds stress. You GET to work out – you don’t HAVE to work out.
7) Add 30 minutes or 1 extra hour of sleep every night.
Getting adequate sleep makes healthy eating (and crushing workouts) way easier. It will also help with your sugar cravings! (If you’re looking for help in this area, check out my How to Get Rid of Sugar Cravings blog post.)
8) Add one night of cooking at home per week.
Check out my easy stir fry recipes post or my mix + match easy sheet pan dinners post for some quick dinner inspiration that won’t have you slaving over a hot stove for hours!
And now, here are some of my favorite recipes and tips from over the years that will inspire you to enjoy some healthier eats in a non-restrictive, actually yummy and satisfying way.
Easy dinner recipes:
- Almond Encrusted Tilapia (gluten free)
- Corn Flake Encrusted Chicken Fingers (gluten free)
- Greek Lamb Burgers (can be made with turkey too)
- Mexican Lasagna (gluten free if using corn tortillas)
- Salmon with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce (gluten free)
- Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Enchiladas (vegan if omit cheese)
Healthy (but satisfying) snack recipes:
- Dark Chocolate Quinoa Bars (gluten free)
- Almond Butter Banana Breakfast Bars (vegan)
- Nutty Protein Granola Bars (gluten free with GF certified oats)
- Healthy Peanut Butter Power Cookies (vegan, gluten free)
- Salty Maple Nut Energy Bites (vegan, gluten free)
- Savory Curry Granola Bars (gluten free)
- Red Lentil Granola Bars (vegan)
- Oatmeal Raisin Energy Bites (vegan, gluten free with GF certified oats)
- Tart Cherry Pie Snack Balls (vegan, gluten free)
- High Protein & Flour-Free Breakfast Pancake (gluten free)
- Microwave Banana Oatmeal (gluten free with GF certified oats)
- Scrambled Egg Muffins (pair with some fruit!)
- High Protein Oatmeal (gluten free with certified GF oats)
- Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos (gluten free with corn tortillas) – freeze a huge batch!
Happy new year, my friends!
What are your favorite foods/things to add to your life when you need a bit more balance or want to feel physically healthier?