It’s that time again—another New Year, another opportunity for renewal and reinvention. For many, the new year starts with a few weeks of inspiration followed by a return to unhealthy habits. Instead of making drastic resolutions, I find simple upgrades are easier to stick to and result in greater long-term success. Here are some of my favorites:
You don’t have to give up sweet foods altogether, but for better health, trade in sugar for monkfruit or honey. Both contain antioxidants, and they’re super-sweet, so you need less to achieve the flavor you want. Additionally, both have healing properties that include boosting the immune system, decreasing allergies, and preventing blood sugar irregularity that sugar can trigger.
Cut back on meat
You don’t have to give it up. Simply enjoy vegetarian meals twice a day, and limit meat (or other animal protein) once a day. You’re likely to find that your digestion is better, thanks to the additional fiber you’re getting from eating more vegetables. Of course, be sure those vegetarian meals contain lots of vegetables—a plate of pasta is technically “vegetarian,” but won’t give you the nutrition you need. Here’s some inspiration for delicious, healthy, easy-to-prepare vegetarian meals, and tasty options for plant-based protein.
Pick better greens
Regular lettuces like romaine are fine, but there are so many other varieties. Jump into the world of deep greens, and reds, purples and more. Play with arugula, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, endive, the many varieties of kale. You’ll get more antioxidants, fiber and other nutrients, plus tastier, heartier salads and other dishes.
Say “so long” to soda
Still drinking soda? It’s time to stop, once and for all. Instead, sip sparkling water or club soda and add a splash of your favorite juice or fruit. You’ll get fewer calories (or lose the artificial sweeteners if you drink diet soda), plus it’s still tasty, free of additives and preservatives and hydrating.
This post-holiday time is perfect for cutting back on—or even eliminating—alcohol, if only for a while. Say “cheers” with a fun mocktail instead. Or trade your shot of tequila for a turmeric shot, and watch your pain and inflammation go away.
Get your fat fix
It’s essential to eat plenty of high-quality fat. Replace canola and corn oil with avocado oil or coconut oil for cooking, olive oil for drizzling or ghee for both. Fats are important for gut health and hormonal balance, and help stabilize blood sugar.
Get your fat fix, part II: Add 1 tsp. coconut oil to your daily diet (blend it into tea or a smoothie, mix it into yogurt or just eat it off a spoon). Coconut oil is unique because it contains a special kind of saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized differently than long-chain triglycerides. MCTs have many positive health benefits, which include reducing inflammation, supporting a healthy gut microbiome, increasing energy, and managing hunger and appetite. Along with eating it, you can also use it as a nighttime moisturizer; coconut oil’s naturally antibacterial, antifungal and moisturizing properties work topically, too.
Enjoy cheese (without the cheese)
If you love cheese but don’t want more (or any) dairy in your diet, try nutritional yeast. Rich in B vitamins and protein, nutritional yeast can aid digestion, boost metabolism and help with energy production. Sprinkle it on popcorn, salads, zoodles or anywhere else you’d add cheese.