Alisa 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!