Happy New Year! As we welcome 2024, there are many opportunities to reflect on the past year and prepare for the new year. Whether you always set a New Year’s resolution or never do, there is no doubt that there is an air of change as the calendar resets. Coming out of a busy holiday season can make it harder to take on some new healthy habits. Instead of aiming for big, lofty goals, keep things simple and be gentle with yourself this new year. Resolution or not, there are many chances to live a healthier life with some small steps.
(Re-)Establish a Routine
If you had a routine before the holiday season, even if it was a small one, try to get back into it. If you eat breakfast before school, do your best to resume that. If a regular dinner time and clean up were a normal part of your or your family’s day, get back to that. A familiar routine is easy to stick to, especially if you are looking to change something else in your eating or physical activity habits.
If you did not have a routine but are looking to establish some consistency this year, take small steps toward that. Try waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends), and eat a nourishing breakfast with protein, fiber, and carbohydrates each morning. Granola is full of fiber and can be mixed with many different things, such as milk, yogurt, or fruit. Check out this homemade granola recipe and explore more on the Recipes page as inspiration for a healthy morning. Maybe it is hard for you to make a routine because you or someone you live with works odd hours. In that case, try preparing some meals in advance so there is not as much cooking and cleanup on those busier days. Cooking a bunch of protein-packed muffins or egg cups in advance can make it easy to start the day with a nourishing meal, even if the morning (or whatever time you get ready to go) feels hectic.
Add Fruits and Vegetables Wherever You Can
A simple way to add more nutrition to your diet is to add fruits and vegetables wherever you can. Fruit is not just reserved for breakfast, and vegetables are not only for dinner. Fresh fruits and vegetables are wonderful, especially when they are in season. However, frozen or canned produce can be just as nutritious, and they last longer. Often, produce can lose nutritional quality if it is not picked from the farm at the right time or if it is sitting around for a long time. Frozen fruits and vegetables are typically harvested and quickly frozen at their peak, which means they do not lose these important nutrients between the farm and your table. Canned vegetables may go through a similar process, but they are often packaged with preservatives like salt. Simply rinse your canned vegetables with running water before cooking to reduce the salt content. Similarly, for canned fruits, try to choose ones that do not have added sugar or syrup. You can also rinse off the excess sugar with water. No matter what you choose, remember that the most important thing is adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet in general.
Stay Away from Fad Diets
If you have big health goals for 2024, the latest fad diet might seem attractive. However, fads are not usually sustainable or effective. If anything, they can be frustrating, limit your food options, and cause more stress than they are worth. If you are looking to improve your diet, keep your goals small and achievable. It can be a big undertaking and very expensive to shake up your entire diet. It is much easier to add in one extra vegetable a day or to start your morning with a filling breakfast. Little changes are more likely to lead you to success, which is more likely to turn each small change into a true habit.
Stay Healthy with Delicious Meals
It can be intimidating to take on a big New Year’s Resolution, but remember that little differences can have huge impacts in the long run. This also means you do not need to sacrifice the foods that are most meaningful to you. Cooking cultural foods can keep you connected to your heritage and family traditions, while also being nutritious. Try this Garlic Ginger Ramen with Beef for an easy way to add veggies and protein to packaged ramen. Explore the MA SNAP-Ed website for even more recipes to help keep you well all year long!
Did you find this blog post helpful? Please click the heart button!