Looking to get back on track with healthy eating after an indulgent holiday season? Now’s the perfect time! No matter if you’re revisiting your pre-holiday health and fitness goals or setting them for the first time, the start of a new year is the perfect time to revamp your routine and kickstart new healthy habits. That said, putting your goals into action isn’t always easy. In fact, getting started can often feel like the hardest part. But, we’re here to support you with simple tricks that will make getting back on track with healthy eating easier than ever! No fad diets, calorie counting, or restrictive behaviors. So, forget those quick-fix solutions! With these healthy lifestyle hacks, you may just achieve your goals in a healthy and sustainable way and head into 2023 feeling better than ever.
9 Simple Tips to Get Back on Track With Healthy Eating
#1 Commit To One Small Change
After an indulgent holiday season, we’re ready for a reset. But, getting back on track with healthy eating doesn’t mean we have to take our resolutions to the extreme. So, rather than going from indulgence to deprivation, let’s kick this year off with a healthy mindset and start by committing to one small change!
If one small change sounds like a breeze (coming from a society intent on doing the most), know that you’re building a solid foundation for long-lasting results! While there’s nothing wrong with setting high expectations, we often expect change to happen overnight (ahh yes, the era of instant gratification). And the thing is, that’s just not realistic! Because once that initial motivation wears off (and it will, we’re human), you’re left with unrealistic goals and expectations that feel impossible to maintain or achieve. In turn, you wind up feeling defeated when really, you’re just not setting yourself up for success.
So, why not set yourself up for success by starting small?
To help you get started, here are some small, actionable steps to consider in place of less attainable goals:
- Are you looking to include more plant-based foods in your diet? Rather than cutting out meat cold turkey, try starting slow with Meatless Mondays.
- Do you find yourself over-indulging when it comes to snacks? Rather than deeming snacks off limits, try cleaning out your pantry and substituting processed items with healthy alternatives!
- Are you guilty of skipping breakfast or hitting the drive-through on busy mornings? Try meal-prepping your breakfast in advance!
- Are you trying to cut back on coffee? Instead of cutting it out completely (and enduring a throbbing headache in the process), try reducing your intake by one cup per day and drinking a glass of water or a healthy caffeine alternative in its place.
- Do you want to work out more consistently? Instead of committing to a 7-day workout plan, try prioritizing 10-15 minutes of movement a day (even a leisurely walk!)
Studies show long-term, realistic goals proved most effective in creating long-lasting results. When you start small and approach your goals in a healthy way, getting back on track with healthy eating can be simple and sustainable!
#2 Ditch the New Year, New Me Mentality
Of course, the New Year can inspire positive change, but don’t let it be a make-it-or-break-it factor for you and your goals. If you want to get back on track with healthy eating or set wellness goals for yourself, who says you need to wait for a monumental holiday? And why do you need a new you?
While there’s no doubt goal setting is effective, the idea that you need to completely change in order to become healthy is, well, unhealthy. If you’re ready to set healthy goals (and crush them), do it for you — don’t do it because of the societal pressures that arise around New Year’s. Plus, New Year’s goals can oftentimes be limiting. Don’t you want to make long-lasting changes? Rather than focusing all of your energy on “perfecting” yourself in the year ahead, think of how healthy you want to be in five years or ten years.
To set yourself up for success and make long-lasting changes, your goals need to be accompanied by a strategy — a long-term strategy! One that implements small, attainable steps that will set you up for success for many years to come. Think of it as a journey rather than a destination.
RELATED: 20 New Year’s Goals That Are Actually Worth Making
#3 Prioritize Daily Movement
The secret’s out: movement does not (necessarily) equal physically demanding exercise. When we say daily movement, we’re not talking about running a 5K or crushing a leg session at the gym. While these certainly fall into the category of movement, it could also include something as simple as a walk around the block or a 10 minute quick HIIT FitOn class. The goal here is to avoid being sedentary by prioritizing daily activity. And because active individuals are more likely to make better choices when it comes to diet, getting back on track with healthy eating may be as simple as prioritizing exercise! Plus, movement after a meal (such as a light walk) has been shown to lower blood sugar and improve overall health. According to research, a mere 15 minutes is all you need!
So, let’s get moving — here are some easy ways to incorporate movement into your day
- Walk your dog around the neighborhood
- Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park your car further away from your destination to get some extra steps in
- If possible, schedule your next work meeting as a phone call so you can take it outside and walk while you talk
- Don’t underestimate the power of house chores! Mowing the lawn and scrubbing the floor can surprisingly work up a sweat
- Don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of needing to get an hour-long workout in each day. Try two 10-15minute workout classes — one in the morning and one in the evening if your schedule allows. You would be surprised how much more doable exercise can feel in shorter chunks of time.
#4 Enlist a Buddy!
If getting back on track with healthy eating seems daunting, enlist a buddy! After all, everything’s better with a friend. You’re more likely to accomplish your goals when you have the support of an accountability partner. When you know somebody’s watching you, you’re less likely to slack off and more likely to adhere to your goals — plus, sharing the experience together is more fun!
And the more the merrier! Maybe you recruit your whole friend group to join in on the fun, or inspire your co-workers to try out your healthy eating habits
Here are some ways you and your healthy eating buddy can make your goals more fun:
- Sign up for a healthy cooking class together and learn some new recipes and cooking tips.
- If your wallet and schedule allow, try out one new healthy restaurant (or menu item) per month
- Head to the grocery store together and browse the aisles for newly-released healthy products
- Send each other friendly reminders via text to stay hydrated or keep up the good work.
- Hit the local farmers market together and stock up on colorful fruits and veggies.
#5 Count Colors Not Calories
Before you jump to a restrictive mindset (whether it’s cutting out carbs, alcohol, or calories, in general), consider what you could add into your diet! Rather than placing limitations on what you can and can’t eat, prioritize filling your plate with colorful, nutrient-dense foods. Dieting can actually be a predictor of future weight gain — all the more reason to ditch the diet mindset and opt for real, whole foods!
Fill your kitchen with foods that will make you feel good (think: the more colorful the foods, the more nutrients they contain!) In fact, every color is associated with different health benefits. For example, the antioxidants in dark blueberries contain anti-aging properties, while the Vitamin C in bright orange foods like citrus help protect your eyes and skin! Instead of a restrictive mindset, try to think in terms of abundance.
RELATED: Why Dropping The “Perfect Diet” Mindset Is Beneficial For Your Health
#6 Meal Prep
If you’re serious about getting back on track with healthy eating, meal prep is going to be your best friend! Let’s be honest, if you’re tired, hungry, and impatient after a long day, are you really going to spend the little energy you have left making a healthy dinner? If you said yes, please spill your superhuman secrets. Because for the majority of us, we’re taking the path of least resistance — which means speed dialing takeout.
This is where the benefits of meal prep come in. By meal prepping and planning ahead, you’re removing temptation from the equation. Imagine opening your fridge to a delicious assortment of pre-portioned and prepared meals after a long day — bless you, meal prep. Not only will you save time and money, but you’ll be more likely to make healthier food choices if you have yummy, nourishing meals waiting to be eaten.
Need some meal prep inspiration? Give this family-friendly meal-prep dinner a try! Not only is this Pasta Primavera recipe easy to customize, but it also comes together in 10 minutes. Plus, since pasta alternatives are one of the food trends for the upcoming 2023 year, look out for yummy new veggie-based pasta products!
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 4 garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
- ½ cup parmesan cheese (or dairy-free alternative)
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 cups broccoli, chopped
- 8 oz pasta of choice
- ½ lemon, zested
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
Step #1: Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Save some pasta cooking liquid for the sauce.
Step #2: While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, carrots, broccoli, and red bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the zucchini and cook for 3-4 more minutes. The vegetables should be just tender-crisp.
Step #3: Add the cherry tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Cook for 2 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.
Step #4: Add the vegetables to the cooked pasta. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and about ¼ cup of pasta cooking liquid. Stir to form a creamy sauce. If needed, add more pasta cooking liquid, up to about 1/2 cup.
Step #5: Top with fresh basil and additional parmesan cheese if desired.
#7 Don’t Drink Your Calories
Cozy winter drinks are sneaky sources of hidden sugar. Most holiday beverages are filled with excess sugar and fat while also supplying a hefty calorie count. Eggnog, spiced rum, Irish coffee — need we say more? With that said, we’re not about depriving yourself of your favorite foods. The good news is that getting back on track with healthy eating after the holidays may be as simple as making a few healthy swaps!
- Instead of eggnog, opt for frothed almond milk with honey and gingerbread spice.
- If you’re going to drink liquor, nix the simple syrup (and try a healthier recipe!)
- Instead of spiced rum, have a glass of red or white wine.
- Going alcohol-free? Try a soda alternative like OLIPOP – it’s made with prebiotics and has a mere 3 grams of sugar.
And as for our cold weather lattes, you better believe we’re taking them into the New Year. With these healthy ingredient swaps, we’ll be soaking (and sipping) them up all winter long.
#8 Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Speaking of drinking, making sure you’re properly hydrated is essential when it comes to getting back on track with healthy eating. In fact, did you know dehydration can actually lead to weight gain? It’s true — dehydration could be derailing your weight loss efforts! According to research, inadequate hydration is associated with a higher BMI index, a reduced metabolism, and an increase in fat storage. And, oftentimes feelings of thirst are confused for feelings of hunger. To ensure you’re properly hydrated, try these simple hydration hacks.
#9 If You Fall Out of Your Routine, Don’t Let It Ruin Your Day
Getting back on track with healthy eating isn’t always linear. Maybe you crush your week, hit all of your wellness goals, and the next week gets crazy busy and you don’t get around to meal prep as often as you would have liked or complete all of your workouts. We’re only human and life happens! If you fall out of your routine from time to time, don’t let it hold you back — just pick up where you left off tomorrow.
The Bottom Line
With all of this newfound motivation, we’re ready to kick off the year in good health. And while these tips will help reignite your wellness journey, they will also help you maintain your goals and your hard work well beyond the new year! Get ready to set yourself up for a year of success.