By Colleen de Bellefonds
Maybe you think New Years’ resolutions are the ideal way to reset after a month of eggnog, puff pastry and stretchy pants. Or maybe you think they’re complete bunk. Either way, setting a clean eating goal is never a bad idea—as long as it’s realistic and healthy. (Let’s just say no one ever stuck with the cabbage soup diet for life.)
For inspiration and real-life tips, we talked to ten super-successes—from a world-renowned doctor and dietician to famous models, health and wellness bloggers, a cookbook author and a company co-founder—about their healthy eating goals for 2017, along with how they’ll manage to actually make them happen. Get ready to hit the reset button.
Goal: Feast on More Algae
Dr. David Katz, Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center and Founder of True Health Initiative
“Yum” may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of algae, but Dr. David Katz says it’s the one thing he wants to eat more of in 2017. Algae-based products like spirulina (which you’ll find in some green juices) and seaweed are bonafide superfoods: they’re rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, and may even reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Plus, seaweeds are super-sustainable. Researchers are looking to use algae in everything from animal feed to biofuels, since it requires less land and water to cultivate than just about any of the competition. Dr. Katz says the key to making any resolution happen is to pick something you really care about—hence his goal to down more algae. “I am focused on minimizing the environmental impact of my diet,” he says.
Goal: Cut Back on Chocolate
Hilary Rhoda, model for Estée Lauder, Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret
Even models get hooked on sweets. “I eat way too much chocolate, specifically peanut butter M&Ms,” says model Hilary Rhoda, which is why her healthy resolution for 2017 is to cut back on the sweet stuff. In its place, Rhoda wants to eat more bee pollen sprinkled on smoothies or on top of yogurt. “After reading up about it, I learned that it’s one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods,” she says, noting its reputed abundance of protein, minerals, vitamins and fatty acids. (Note: If you’re allergic to pollen or pregnant, bee pollen is not recommended.)
For others looking to clean up their nutritional acts, Rhoda suggests simply drinking more water. “It’s something that we don’t think about enough, and we are often dehydrated. It’s one simple thing that’s actually attainable for everybody,” she says. One easy way: Accept that glass anytime someone offers it—at a store, a meeting, a friend’s house. And drink it!
Christopher Gavigan wants to watch the added sugars in the foods he eats—for both himself and his family. “Everyday staples like sliced bread, yogurt, granola bars and salad dressing can contain tons of unnecessary refined sugars,” he says. The secret to success: reading nutrition labels and sharing them with his kids. “A lot more research has come out that shows sugar is linked to heart disease, liver disease and certain types of cancer. It’s important to understand the impact it has on our body and identify the foods that contain those sneaky sugars so we can avoid them as a family,” notes Gavigan. He also plans to eat more healthy fats with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, like raw nuts, seeds, avocado and vegetable oils. “People are really scared of fat, but healthy fats are essential for boosting brain function and healthy skin. And they can help boost immunity,” he says.
If you’re looking to find your resolution, Gavigan says to aim for a mostly plant-based diet. “It’s been shown to reduce diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,” he adds. He recommends focusing on fruits, veggies, raw nuts, quinoa, barley, rice, lentils and beans. “There’s no question we need protein, but you don’t actually need as much as you think,” he says.
Goal: Nosh on Raw Food
Jill de Jong, model and founder of Models Do Eat
After signing up for a raw food course at Matthew Kenney Cuisine, model and author Jill de Jong wants to take her raw food habit to the next level. “It makes me feel good, it’s nutrient-dense, and it’s a labor of love. But it can be time-consuming!” she says. There will be no compromising on flavor, though: Raw cheeses, chocolate and bread will all be on the menu in 2017. She’d also like to up her intake of high-quality fish like cod and tuna, from once or twice a month to once or twice a week. “It’s so easy to sear some scallops or grill some salmon for lunch or dinner,” she says. Plus, they offer major health perks, like being rich in protein (the cod has 20g per serving and tuna a whopping 40g) and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
De Jong says when making resolutions, it’s important to do it for yourself—not because you think it’s the right thing to do. “No excuses or procrastination. It’s going to happen no matter what,” she says.
Bestselling cookbook author and nutritionist Joy Bauer, R.D., admits she’s not always the cleanest cook. “My husband jokes that our kitchen always looks like we’ve been burglarized!” she says. In addition to rolling up her sleeves and scrubbing, Bauer says she has a goal for the kitchen that’s more fun (and delicious): to create Cabernet-infused, low-cal fudge brownies. “They don’t exist, but I’m on a mission to create them,” she says. She also wants to focus on being more present in 2017. “Work will always be there,” she says. “[But] friends and family are so precious, and I want to enjoy every single minute I can with them.”
Joy makes her resolutions stick by taking five minutes every morning to jot down blessings—big and small. “This boosts your mood and puts you in a positive mindset so you’re better able to make healthy choices throughout the day,” she says. “Because healthy eating is 50 percent attitude.”
Goal: Make My Own Kimchi
Thea Baumann, Goop’s Food Editor and co-author with Gwyneth Paltrow of The New York Times bestselling cookbook, It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home
Just because you spend all day thinking about food doesn’t mean you always take the time to appreciate it. Like many of us, bestselling cookbook author Thea Baumann says she often fails to eat a real breakfast. So her resolution is to stick to a real meal routine—”not just a banana or a few handfuls of granola”—every morning.
A fan of fermented foods, which are rich in probiotics and help boost your gut health, she also admits she doesn’t eat them enough. “Maybe I’ll start making my own kimchi this year,” she says. In terms of framing your own resolution, Baumann recommends choosing something more specific than just eating healthier or exercising more. “It’s both daunting and too vague,” she says. “Choose one change you’re going to make, like cutting out carbs after lunch or going to a particular Pilates class twice a week, instead.”
Red and green will stay on celebrity trainer Jeanette Jenkins’ menu long after the holidays; she’s seeing lots of green veggies and beets in her future. Three to four times per day, Jenkins gets her greens in everything from juices to side salads to egg-and-veggie scrambles, and she likes to sip her beets through a straw. “I feel amazing after a liver cleanse juice with beets, carrot, apple, lemon and ginger,” she says. Some research has shown that beetroot is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. “There are so many incredible benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables and so many phytonutrients that help your body function at its best,” she says.
The key to success for any healthy eating resolution, Jenkins says, is making a plan. “A goal without a plan is just a wish, so get that plan together and start achieving your goals,” she says. Step one: “Plan your meals for the week in advance, and you will be much more successful.”
Goal: Double Down on Dark Leafy Greens
Keri Glassman, R.D., Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Nutritious Life
Keri Glassman is not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. “Oftentimes clients feel inclined to make big old resolutions and have all good intentions of sticking to them. But when they have a tiny slip-up or veer from the original plan, they give up,” she says. That’s why she suggests clients focus on making little changes in their patterns every day. “Make a commitment to something that you want to accomplish, but do it by creating better behaviors,” she says. Though she says she is a very healthy eater, she wants to up her greens game and get 2 cups of kale, broccoli rabe, collard greens or Swiss chard every day. And she wants to be more consistent with exercise. “Though I work out, I want to take it up a notch in 2017! This includes getting in a few races, planning a few hiking trips and being consistent with four intense workouts a week,” she says.
Goal: Down Apple Cider Vinegar
Jordan Yonger, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, TheBalancedBlonde.com (Formerly The Blonde Vegan)
Even the healthiest diets have room for a little apple cider vinegar in the morning, Jordan Yonger’s new year’s ritual to aid with digestion. Made from fermented apples, celebs like Katy Perry drink the stuff for its purported tummy-friendly probiotic benefits. (Just be careful: It’s acidic, so you don’t want to drink more than a couple of tablespoons a day.) Yonger also resolves to slow down and be present in every moment—whether that means reading a book or taking the time to appreciate a meal with family and friends. “I’m a very go-go-go person, so slowing down is going to be huge for me this year,” she says.
Yonger stresses that it’s important to make sure any resolution reflects a habit-shift and not just an end goal. If your resolution is to lose 5 pounds, consider cutting out refined sugar or committing to working out three times per week instead. “That way, your lifestyle shifts in a positive way, but it’s not about the quick fix,” she says.
Goal: Make More Mushroom-Based Meals
Sally Kuzemchak, R.D., Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Real Mom Nutrition
Once upon a time, Sally Kuzemchak was a picky eater, but these days, her once-disliked mushroom has become her new obsession. They’re low in calories and loaded in vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, which help our bodies convert food into energy; potassium, a type of electrolyte that helps regulate fluid balance; and selenium, a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage. Plus, they’re a super-simple way to get more plants into your diet. “I’ve been ordering them on pizza, roasting them for Buddha bowls, and chopping them very fine and adding them to ground beef for tacos and burritos,” she says. On that note, she also wants to find more meatless meals her family enjoys. “I’ve got a husband and kids who are always looking for the meat and potatoes on their plates, so it can be a challenge!”
For those looking to make any health- or diet-related change, Kuzemchak recommends creating a micro-goal—like vowing to drink a glass of water with every meal—instead of a huge and possibly unattainable one—like downing 64 ounces a day. “It feels so good to meet it and even go above and beyond,” she says.