Every January, many of us hit the gyms, dust off our juicers, and swear off sugar. “This is the year I’ll get healthy,” we declare. When we say “healthy,” though, we don’t necessarily mean we’re committing to work toward becoming stronger, more balanced, or connected people. Truth be told, we’re just trying to get skinny.
We all know that, come February, our year-long resolutions come to a sudden and grisly end, often marked by a session of binge-watching television and stuffing ourselves silly with candy. Why?
We didn’t lose the weight. We skipped the gym three days in a row. We ate ice cream after a stressful day.
We don’t know about you, but we’re tired of shame-based resolutions and the inevitable failure that comes with them. This year, we’re making changes that count—commitments to food as a joy-filled, whole-health promoting lifestyle that connects us to ourselves, our community, and our world.
1. Eat like you’re worth it.
At the heart of many resolutions and diets is the notion that the dieter isn’t good enough. She thinks that if she can just be skinnier or stronger, have softer skin or shinier hair, she’ll be happier, more likable, or more successful. Let’s start our year off by telling ourselves a different story—one that acknowledges our value as wholly unique, creative, capable human beings. It’s a story that involves food because food both fuels and delights us.
This year, resolve to eat like you’re worth it. Load up on the good stuff because it’s what your body needs and deserves—it works hard every single day! Indulge in your favorite treats from time to time simply because you enjoy them.
2. Eat mindfully.
We all do it. In between work and our kid’s school play, or half-marathon training and a fundraiser event, we scarf down our meals in the car or on the train. On the rare occasions we eat at home, we munch absently on dinner while binge-watching cat videos on YouTube.
Let’s pay attention. Commit to eating at least one meal a day without any distractions—put down your phone and turn off those cat videos. Take a moment to pause and be grateful. Then, eat slowly. Engage your senses. How does the food look? Smell? What flavors do you notice? What textures do you experience?
3. Eat with other people.
There is something about sharing a meal with other people that is connective in a way that few things are. In his article for the Atlantic, Cody Delistraty argues that shared family meals help build healthy relationships and reduce the rates of truancy and childhood obesity. Delistraty asserts that “the dinner table can act as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day.”
Commit to sharing at least two meals a week with family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors. Whether it’s a brown-bag office lunch or a three-course dinner party, enjoy your food in the company of people you love.
4. Eat more…vegetables!
This is the time of year we’re all thinking about what we should eat less of—sugar, carbs, fat, caffeine… The list can go on and on. Instead of focusing on what you should eat less of, resolve to eat more foods in their whole form. And, since vegetables and fruits are low in all the “bad” stuff and high in all the good stuff, you can pack them into your diet with the only consequence being better health. So, resolve to eat one more serving of green every day or adding an extra piece of fruit to your breakfast.
5. Eat more fat.
For years, we’ve been told to eat a low-fat diet. Recently, though, that approach has been challenged. It turns out that some fats are really good for you. Like, REALLY good. Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fats provide long-lasting energy, satiate appetite, help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), regulate mood, and contribute to skin and eye health.
By all means—eat a handful of almonds, dip your bread in olive oil, add avocado to your smoothie. Resolve to eat more (healthy) fat!
6. Ease into local.
You know that buying local is good for your local economy and the earth, but the idea of buying locally grown, baked, roasted, and pickled everything can be overwhelming—and expensive. If your budget won’t allow for complete overhaul, start small and know you can still make a big impact.
Choose one item you love and frequently buy—maybe it’s milk, eggs, chocolate, honey, or coffee—and commit to buying a locally-produced option in the coming year. To make the experiment even more meaningful, resolve to learn more about the artisan or farmer whose food you’re buying and consider visiting his or her farm or shop (see #10).
7. Eat seasonally.
Like eating locally, adopting a seasonal diet can seem like a difficult task. But here’s the thing—if you eat with the seasons, your food is definitely going to taste better. We’ve all had the tasteless, pale orbs dubbed “tomatoes” in the dead of winter. We’ve also had the real-deal, sun-ripened summer fruit. One bite in and we can’t help but sigh, “Now that’s a tomato!”
Start your journey toward seasonal eating by making one small change. Every month, we publish a seasonal produce calendar that you can find at our pickup sites or right here, on our blog. Post it to your fridge or set it as your desktop image and choose one or two in-season vegetables or fruits to include in your grocery order each month.
8. Grow something!
So far, our resolutions have connected us to our minds and bodies, our loved ones, and our communities. By committing to grow our food, we commit to learn about and connect to the food itself.
You don’t have to go out and plow an acre-large garden. Just resolve to grow one thing. Try growing a potted herb or some edible flowers!
9. Plan your meals.
What benefits does meal planning have for your food life? Oh, let us count the ways! Planning ahead will mean you can stay committed to your resolutions to add veggies and good fats to your diet, eat seasonally and locally, and share meals with loved ones. Knowing what you’ll eat for dinner each day means you can free up some brain space to eat mindfully and it’s also likely to free up some of your eating-out budget for a decadent dinner out instead of a few, so-so takeout meals.
Commit to planning 3-5 dinners each week. That’s it! You can start by choosing and shopping some of our recipes.
10. Make a 2016 “food adventure” bucket list.
Resolve to make food fun this year. Make a bucket list for your year in food and aim to include at least one item for each month. Need some ideas? Here are some to get you started:
Try a something you’ve never eaten before—a vegetable or fruit, a meat, or a cuisine.
Visit a local farm or bakery.
Learn a new cooking technique.
Visit that restaurant you’ve heard everyone talking about.
Adopt Meatless Mondays for a month.
If you’re looking for 2016 to be the year you embrace a shame-free, satisfying, wellness-promoting food life, we invite you to join our January series, My Food Life: 21 Days to Savor and Simplify. Beginning January 10, we’ll send you an email each day with recipes, stories, tips, and food philosophies from the Relay community.