Now that the holiday festivities are behind us all, it’s hard not to start thinking about what you want in the New Year ahead and changes you’d like to make. We all have our individual, personal goals. There are goals that a vast majority of us will be sharing like hitting the gym more or eating better. After spending the last couple of months indulging in holiday treats, it’s no wonder we are all ready to take better care of ourselves for a new year.
To start the new year off, we aren’t starting another 30 day unprocessed food challenge, we are just making more efforts here at home to eat more balanced. While we are no health experts, Ryan and I thought that we would share some of the baby steps we took that helped us get on track to clean (vegetarian) eating. They are the same rules of thumb we follow today. Radically changing your everyday diet may seem intimidating and can easily set you up for failure, but taking small steps at a time can make the transition smooth as can be. These 6 easy tips are the backbone to clean eating in the new year.
Eat real food
The direct line to a better, healthier life is to eat real food. Avoiding refined grains and sweeteners and filling your plate with fruits, veggies, seafood, and local meats can drastically improve your health. It can be a challenge to keep up every single day, but it is the best investment you can make. Real, organic foods are the best way to support and fine tune a body. Start your year off by avoiding highly processed mixtures designed in a lab and start eating closer to the earth.
Shop the perimeter of a grocery store
The perimeter of a grocery store typically covers your produce, meat, fish, and dairy. Sticking to the perimeter helps you avoid giving in to the unhealthy processed temptations down the center aisles. Of course hit the aisles needed for whole grains and other dry staples on your list, but then hightail it out of there. I find it much easier to say no to tempting foods in the store because once it gets home, I know I’ll give in.
Scan ingredient labels
Skip the calorie count and take a few extra seconds to scan the ingredient list. This goes back to eating real foods. If there is an ingredient you aren’t familiar with, avoid it. I’ve been known to Google ingredients in the aisle before making a decision on a purchase. My favorite app to help me make better choices is Fooducate. It scans the barcode of an item and the app gives you a heads up of chemicals, high amounts of specific ingredients and even suggests healthier options.
Avoid high fructose syrup
Refusing to buy anything with high fructose (a sugar that causes weight gain and even high cholesterol) in it made a big impact on the foods we were buying. Talk about a wake-up call. We were finding out food that we had deemed “healthy” wasn’t holding up to the claim. When someone tells us they want to eat better, this is the first tip that gets thrown out. It’s an easy step to begin a new way of conscious grocery shopping.
Cook your meals
If you cook your food, you understand what you are eating. It sounds novel, but cooking your meals, especially if you are eating real food, can have a direct effect on your waistline and overall health. Life has a way of keeping us on our toes and keeping us busy (and tired!), but if you can muster up a cooked meal on the regular, everyone in your house will reap the benefits. We always try to make plenty of extra for leftovers to cover us for more meals.
Swap out red meat
Before transitioning into a vegetarian diet, we were swapping red meat for chicken, turkey, and salmon. When buying any meat, aim for organic and local. Not only do red meats take a toll on your heart’s health, but they also have a heavy footprint on the environment. Try it for a month and see what you think. Your body and the earth will thank you!
Get outside to tone up
We’ve long ditched our gym passes since focusing so much time on our gardens. When we aren’t breaking a sweat growing our own food, we like to hit up local hiking trails for a good workout. If anything else, finding a local greenway or bike trail that can take you on a scenic outing is a great way to stay in shape while taking in nature and vitamin D. Plus, they can be stroller friendly, so no need for parents to find a sitter so that you can break away for a workout.
These are just the 6 tips that help keep us on the straight and narrow. We would love to hear any clean eating tips that you may have, just like with anything else!