Best Food Resolutions for 2022 | Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN
My wish for you in 2022 is to start really practicing an attitude of addition rather than subtraction, self-love, and enjoyment. It’s important to fight off the desire to cut food out and embrace what you can add in! Seeds (chia, flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower), microgreens, spices, and fermented foods all go unrecognized for having powerful nutrient profiles. Sprinkle seeds on your toast, top your sandwich with greens like spinach or arugula, try recipes with turmeric and ginger, and throw some kimchi in your grain bowl- your brain and gut will thank you.
Enjoy the choices you make
Say this next time you’re enjoying a meal: “I am going to take the time to enjoy every bite of what I eat and enjoy the choices I consciously make. Also, I am going to stop dieting and find a healthy way of eating that will make sense for the rest of my life and allow me to enjoy eating.” Half of the reason we eat is to enjoy the taste, textures, and smells—so don’t hold yourself back, find healthy recipes you enjoy.
Worry less about what you should do with food and more about what food can do for you. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods can work wonders for your mind, body, and mood. This includes improving your gut microbiome, strengthening your immune system, and fighting against chronic degenerative diseases. Stop micromanaging your food choices and instead, trust that food is your friend and an important aspect for well-being and longevity.
There’s a saying “if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail”. How true is that? Before heading to the grocery store, do inventory in your pantry and refrigerator, make a grocery list, plan your meals ahead of time, and meal prep your meals for the week ahead, even snacks!
Make your goals realistic and measurable
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I find that more realistic and measurable goals are more sustainable than completely giving up certain foods. Instead of a dry January, which can result in major binging in February thanks to complete deprivation, I like recommending a ‘damp’ January. Instead of giving up booze or goodies cold turkey, commit to having 1 to 2 drinks per week or treats no more than 3 times per week. Allowing those indulgences can make the journey much easier to stick to without feeling like you have to live without.
Focus on the positive.
Think about what you can add to your eating plan as opposed to what you should take away. For example, by being positive, and focusing on adding more healthier produce, you may no longer even want junk food anymore. Add fruit for breakfast, greens with your lunch, and try a new roasted veggie for dinner. Consider the ‘power of one,’ which means yes, you can have dessert, and yes you can enjoy starch. Just pick your favorite one and enjoy it rather than banning dessert altogether. When faced with an assortment, choose the one you like most, practice portion control, and enjoy it!
Live by the 80/20 rule.
So many people make strict goals for the new year, but the truth is, the best are balanced goals that you can maintain over time! The 80/20 rule says 80% of the time focus on what you should be doing like eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats which is likely meeting some of the goals you set for yourself. Then 20% of the time you can splurge a little and eat some of the “fun foods,” like cake from a birthday party or go have happy hour with your friends. Life is supposed to be enjoyable and so is food. The reality is, there will always be a vacation, happy hour, or celebration, so you have to learn to include those eating experiences into your plan without going overboard. The 80/20 rule can help you reach your goals and enjoy splurges from time to time.
Avoid the negative.
Oftentimes, folks put a lot of negative energy around avoiding foods or taking away ‘bad’ foods from their diet. Instead, I recommend putting a positive spin on food and making the New Year’s resolution to enjoy and savor every meal, snack, and morsel of food that goes into your mouth. All foods can fit into your eating pattern.
Try the red, orange, and green rules.
This rule simply means that at each meal, you’ll make sure to include either a red, orange, or green-colored fruit or vegetable. This way, you’ll be making an effort to pick a beautifully colored food that will not only make your plate look more appealing, but will also help to make you feel satisfied with nutrient-packed wholesome, nutritious foods rich in water, fiber, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Eating colorful produce helps to promote a healthy weight while assisting your body in staving off chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. Meanwhile, concentrating on getting these colorful, healthy foods on your plate will prevent you from focusing on the less options.
Stop the fad dieting.
Fad diets can work—for the short term but they’re not sustainable and never maintain the lost weight. You might get a quick 30-day fix because you ate no carbs, only drank juices, or lived on cabbage soup. But ask yourself, are you eating that way for life?
These diets aren’t healthy for your body and mind on top of not being sustainable. Chances are they eliminate food groups which means they’re eliminating essential nutrients. So, I beg you, no more fad diets again! Talk to me or another Dietitian who can help get you still eating the good stuff and still living your life in a healthy and delicious way. Happy New Year!