“This year, I'm going to eat healthy.” How many times have you said that on January 1 and by February 1 been back on the diet of a Big Mac for lunch and pizza for dinner? Thought so.
In an effort to give you a real shot at keeping at least one new year's resolution, the online meal planning service eMeals offers the following tips
- Adopt Meatless Mondays -- Going meatless just one day a week can reduce your risk of several chronic diseases as well as shrink your carbon footprint. VIPs from Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney to actress Emily Deschanel, The Biggest Loser's Bob Harper and Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis have endorsed the strategy for both the body and the planet.
- Try "clean eating" -- Replace pizza and processed foods with fresh meats, produce and seasonal items.
- Dump the “bad” oils -- Banish butter and bacon grease and replace them with healthy fats like canola and olive oil. Try making your own salad dressing with oil and your favorite vinegar. Your cholesterol level will thank you.
- Eat breakfast every day -- The adage is true: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It fuels your body and brain with the energy you need to face the day.
- Purge your pantry and fridge -- Get rid of anything that's expired or unhealthy, then restock with healthy staples like brown rice, dried beans, canned tuna and prepared pasta sauce for quick and nutritious meals.
- Brown-bag it at least 3 days a week -- Pack your lunch for work or school to eat better and save money too.
- Eat a colorful ROYGBIV diet -- Red foods like tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, red bell pepper and red cabbage contain lycopene, which may reduce the risk of some cancers. Orange choices are filled with Vitamin A and carotenoids that are good for your eyesight. Blue/purple produce includes anthycyanins that support heart health. And green veggies contain isothyiocyanates that help flush cancer-causing compounds out of the body. Bonus: the Vitamin K in leafy greens helps regulate blood pressure, too.
- Downsize your plates -- We all tend to eat everything we put on our plates, and usually that's way too much. If you start a meal with salad, that helps fill you up so you won't overeat the rest of your dinner.
- Switch out soda -- All of the calories in soda and sugary drinks are empty calories, meaning they contribute no healthy nutrients. Swap soda for calorie-free beverages like water or sparkling water (add a splash of lemon or lime for flavor), or beverages with some nutritional value, like skim milk or small amounts of 100% fruit juice.
- Add kale, quinoa or both to your plate -- Just one cup of kale contains 180% of the daily requirement of Vitamin A, 200% of Vitamin C, and 1,020% of Vitamin K, making it a cancer-fighting superfood. Quinoa is a gluten-free whole grain and a complete protein ideal for gluten-free, vegetarian, or overall healthy diets.
- Make half your plate fresh fruit and vegetables -- Diets high in fruits and vegetables contribute to a reduced risk of heart disease, some cancers, obesity and Type II Diabetes. They're also high in fiber, so they fill you up with fewer calories than other foods.
- Take the Paleo plunge -- This one is for the more adventurous, but it's not as difficult as it seems. The 'caveman diet' focuses on meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, fresh produce, tree nuts and seeds, and healthy fats, eliminating processed foods, grains, dairy, sugar, legumes and potatoes.
- Try meal planning and avoid the 6 o'clock drive through run -- You'll save time and money and also eat healthier when you plan.