The new year is among us! It’s an exciting time when we dream about the possibilities and make ambitious plans for our future. You probably know that the most popular resolution is improving health, and we are quite often ready for a change after the holidays. As tasty as holiday tidings are, they often leave us feeling physically heavy and emotionally out of touch with our goals.
Your healthy resolutions don't have to be complicated, and they don't have to end before February arrives. The key to looking and feeling your best is to keep it uncomplicated and focus on clean eating. Clean eating simply means choosing healthy, whole foods and eliminating the processed junk. Here are my best steps for a no-fail progression into clean eating:
Focus on your inner motivation. Why do you want to make this change? Why now? You may want to commit to running an important race in 2018 or perhaps you’ve noticed the poor eating habits of family or friends and witnessed the damage done in body, mind and spirit. Whatever it is that motivates you to eat clean, bring it into your daily focus so you will be more successful in sticking to your clean eating plan.
Re-evaluate what you’re currently eating. Before you begin your clean eating efforts, write down what you’re eating now. Becoming aware of unwanted eating patterns helps to avoid the same pitfalls of the past. Does a stressful week at the office lead you to a Friday night sugar, carb or alcohol binge? Take steps to avoid the same pattern rather than repeat it each week.
Set realistic, measurable and specific goals. It’s important to make small steps toward healthier eating and lifestyle habits to avoid failure. To be successful in the long-term, commit to changing one or two new habits every few weeks. For example, it’s not realistic to declare you will never eat chocolate again. Instead, purchase a few small squares of high-quality chocolate and plan for an uninterrupted indulgence at 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This change is realistic, measurable and specific.
Clean out your pantry. Sadly, most American pantries are bulging with processed foods. As a general rule, cut out anything that is unnatural or contains more than five ingredients on the food label. If you have a surplus of unopened items, donate them to a local food pantry. And! Don’t bring tempting foods that you are trying to avoid into your home, workplace or car.
Refocus your grocery shopping strategy. We’re creatures of habit and when we go to the grocery store, we usually follow the same path every time. Shake things up and head straight for the produce section. And avoid the middle aisles of your supermarket because that’s where those processed foods lurk!
Master meal preparation. One of the easiest ways to dive into clean eating is to prep your meals. You’ll find several healthy meal prep plans online that offer printable shopping lists. If time is a factor, look for crockpot recipes that call for whole foods. Prepare the meal in the morning so you can look forward to a hot, delicious, healthy meal every night!
The key to success is making small changes over time to create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. Take action this week by implementing one suggestion above, write it on your calendar, and then record the next step to start a few weeks from now. A year from now, you will be glad you did!
Download my complimentary crockpot recipe collection for simple, delicious meals at my website: www.sarawolfsen.com.
Sara Wolfsen is a Certified Health & Lifestyle Coach who specializes in helping people make their own healthy changes by providing private health and lifestyle coaching, nutrition education and wellness classes with guidance and gentle support for lasting weight loss and building healthier habits. Learn more online at www.sarawolfsen.com.