The Easy Way to Tackle Major Diet Changes for Your New Year’s Resolution

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5 a Day SaladAlisa Fleming ~ I used to avoid making New Year’s resolutions as they seemed so silly and unattainable.  Exercise more, eat right, take my vitamins, etc., etc., etc.  But last New Year’s I embraced the tradition with some very specific milestones.

By breaking my wish list into baby steps, I am once again moving forward with accomplishments rather than standing frozen in my tracks from a feeling of overwhelm.  In fact, this concept has worked so well, that I now declare “New Year’s” resolutions throughout the year!  To kick start your own ideas, the following is my resolution list, all checked off:

The intimidating goal: Cut out all processed foods

The baby step goals:

  • Always read the ingredient label – With my need to eat dairy-free, this was a habit I took on early in the game.  Nonetheless, consciously reading the label made me all too aware of how much garbage was in some of my regular foods and certainly deterred a pound or two.
  • Banish high fructose corn syrup – As you become accustomed to reading labels, keep an eye out for this villain.  Lingering in soda pop, candy, and many processed foods, this super cheap sweetener is a mainstay for US food manufacturers.  Unfortunately, it isn’t the healthiest ingredient.  In more than a few studies, it has been directly linked to obesity.
  • Eliminate hydrogenated oils –Often seen as “partially hydrogenated ___ oil” it would take me many pages to outline the problems with these ingredients.
  • Just say no to MSG – Okay, this one can be a bit tricky, as I have been told that MSG lingers in many forms, such as yeast extract.  Nonetheless, avoiding good old monosodium glutamate is a step in the right direction.
  • Eat only what you recognize – This was literally my last step in meeting my processed foods goal.  I did not opt to cut out all processed foods, but rather those with any ingredients I couldn’t readily recognize as real food.

The intimidating goal: Eat more fruits and vegetables

The baby step goals:

  • Enjoy some antioxidants – No need to down the Vitamin C, 2007 has brought forth a host of delicious antioxidant rich foods.  Commit to adding some berries, green tea, and even dark chocolate (dairy-free of course) to your daily regimen.  Okay, chocolate and tea don’t qualify as fruits and vegetables, but I had to sneak them in.
  • Prepare a daily smoothie or “shake” – More of an indulgence than a duty; I embraced the concept of making a wonderful smoothie each morning.  If you have a juicer, fabulous, but if you are like me, with just a humble blender, then smoothies are the way to go.  Don’t limit your beverage to fruit either.  I sneak a cup of spinach leaves into the blender, and no one is the wiser.
  • Have a salad a day – I have slacked a bit on this one during the holidays, but adding a daily salad to my diet was one of the easiest ways to pack in the veggies and fruits.  A bed of greens topped with chopped bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, sliced carrots, mushrooms, … really I could go on.  The skies the limit with salads, so just pack on whatever you can find.
  • Get sneaky with convenience meals – When it comes to food, I can never leave well enough alone.  To my favorite organic chili, I always add chunks of zucchini, frozen corn, or some sliced onions.  Spaghetti is an excellent backdrop for mushrooms and spinach. “Spiking” my main dish with whatever veggies I have waiting to be used up has become second nature.

Now, I’m off to prepare my list for this year!  Happy New Year!

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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