New Year’s resolutions — everyone’s favorite way to reinvent their lives and convince themselves that this year they will stop binging those Goldfish at 1 a.m. and go to the gym every day. Whether your New Year’s resolutions last two days or a lifetime, we can all at least tell ourselves it is the effort that counts.
In terms of food and diet, there are hundreds of ways that all of us can be more mindful of what we put in our bodies, how it affects ourselves and how it affects our environment. While many of the resolutions I’ve included involve eating healthier, this is not a list of ways to “diet.” I think many of us go wrong with making our New Year’s resolution far too drastic of a change that ultimately leads to forfeiture within the first week of January. Instead of proposing that we should all go completely vegan or alter our diets on a large scale, here are some small tips and changes that are easy to make in the new year.
I will start off with the thing we all try to nix from our lives in our New Year’s resolutions — desserts. While it is well known that added sugar is literally the root of all evils, we also all know that sweets are amazing. With everything from Nutella-filled donuts to cookie dough served in an ice cream cone, there is not a lack of options for all of us sugar addicts out there. Cutting out all sweets and missing out on trying a Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookie does not sound like the best solution to me, but there are changes in your everyday relationship with sweets that are easy to make.
The best way to kick the sweet tooth craving without downing thousands of calories and grams of sugar? Dark chocolate. I mean the real kind — we’re talking about 100 percent cocoa here. One of my favorites is Montezuma’s Absolute Black Dark Chocolate with zero grams of sugar! It’s definitely bitter, so if it doesn’t do the trick for you, then there are tons of other dark chocolates that have a little bit more sugar in them. Dark chocolate has a ton of powerful antioxidants and other health benefits and is a simple substitute for that late-night scoop of ice cream you’re sneaking.
Moving on from dessert, when shopping for food — particularly produce and meat — a great resolution is to be a more environmentally-aware consumer. Whenever possible, shopping for produce and meat at local farmers markets, such as the Charlottesville City Market, is such a fantastic way to help out the environment and support local business. The processing of red meat harms the environment in many ways from pollution to deforestation. If cutting red meat out of your diet seems too difficult, eating chicken, tofu, fish or other alternatives whenever possible is a great way to start.
When it comes to what we drink, there are tons of ways to be better to your body and ultimately feel happier and healthier. For all you coffee drinkers out there — you are not alone. Personally, I love coffee, and not only due to the fact that I am completely addicted to caffeine. There is something about sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee in a favorite mug that is so comforting and a staple routine in my day to day life.
While coffee also has certain health benefits, if you are someone who is prone to drinking more than one or two cups a day, switching out those additional trips to Starbucks with a cup of tea is always a good call. Green tea –– specifically matcha green tea –– has loads of health benefits and still retains some of the caffeine that we all need! If you need a little more of a boost, go for a black tea which is still better than overloading your body with coffee. Different herbal teas have a variety of effects such as ginger supporting the digestive system, chamomile protecting the skin with its anti-inflammatory qualities and peppermint or lavender for stress relief.
Your body is your best friend, so what you put in it is so important and can have numerous extended effects on your mind, skin, mood and more. While all of these tips are important to eating mindfully, never forget that it’s okay to indulge in that cookie dough in a cone every once in a while.