It’s that time of year again: the time when everyone starts chattering about how this is going to be the year they finally lose weight. Diet talk starts flooding your ears and diet and fitness ads pop up all over the TV and social media. It’s unescapable.
But here’s a wild thought: if this stuff worked, and if these crazy cleanses and diets and fitness regimines were sustainable, then why does everyone pursue them year and year again? Oh, that’s right, because these are marketing gimmicks and money-makers from companies who have your wallet, not your health, in mind.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to live a healthy lifestyle. All I’m saying is that the diet industry has sort of distorted what it means to be healthy. And there are way more important and interesting things to pursue in life than talking about losing weight and doing juice cleanses all the time. Like, I don’t, perhaps realizing how privileged we are to be able to even not worry about where our next meal is coming from.
So here are 11 food and health-related resolution ideas if you want to make a resolution and are out of ideas since literally the only one you usually hear about is weight-loss related. Or don’t make one. That’s cool too. Eliminating extraneous and unnecessary self-placed pressure is totally something I can get behind.
Anyways, happy New Year! Hope you have a fun, tasty, and festive holiday.
1. Don’t diet
They don’t work. They lead you to be miserable, sad and empty inside.
They also cause a great deal of stress, which leads to the stress hormone cortisol elevating in your body. Elevated cortisol is not only detrimental to overall health, but can actually make it harder to lose weight (which honestly, you probably don’t need to do anyway).
If you had a friend that made you sad, miserable, stressed, and left you feeling empty inside, would you continue to pursue a relationship with that person? Likely not. You’d probably distance yourself from them.
So you should do the same with diets. Kick that sh*t to the curb. Free yourself.
2. Let Go of Food Norms
In the past few years, I’ve gone from being self-conscious, rigid, and weird about food norms to not giving a flipping fuck.
What do I mean exactly? Well, for example, for reasons that escape all present logic, I used to feel really weird eating lunch before noon. Like, the thought of enjoying a salad at 11am gave me anxiety. All of my friends in New York ate lunch at like, 2 or 3, so I perceived that as the normal or cool thing to do. If I ate lunch early, it’d make me different and weird and maybe cause me to miss out on eating with friends later.
This odd rigidity lasted after college, even when I would work from home. How silly is it that if I was hungry-for-a-meal at 10:30am, that I’d eat a small snack and let my stomach rumble for 90 minutes, starting at the clock and counting down the minutes until 12;00pm hit, rush to the kitchen, and rage on food.
In retrospect, it makes no sense to do this. At all. Obviously with various work and school schedules, I don’t always get to eat when I’m hungry, or eat what I feel like eating at the time. That’s okay. That’s life.
But I’ve let go of rules and regulations. Since I eat breakfast between 5-6, being hungry for lunch at 11 is totally acceptable. I don’t judge myself for it. I eat my food, satisfy my hunger, and free up brain space to focus on other things.
There’s no right or wrong time to eat or correct meal to eat certain foods at.
So eat salad and sushi for breakfast (I have). Have lunch at 10:00am. Eat ice cream before bed when everyone else is talking about their new weight-loss plan. Do you. Live your best life.
3. Disassociate numbers and health
Including calories, macros, and weight. Your body is not a calculator.
4. Unfollow anyone on Instagram promoting a cleanse or detox
You can follow them again later, but free yourself from daily posts about ‘chic’ fast-tracks to health. Spoiler alert: there is no magic pill to good health. Juice cleanses are an example of a way company’s have found to make tons of money profiting off the vulnerability of those who simple want to be healthier or thinner and don’t know where to begin.
Juice cleanses don’t work. There is literally no scientific data to support them. Literally none of my nutrition professors at Columbia nor NYU ever said a single favorable thing about them.
Drinking juice is unsustainable and highly unsatisfying. Want to be healthier? Eat more plant-based foods, move when it feels good, and
5. Realize that food on Instagram isn’t real life
I feel like the internet has set up this dream world where food always looks perfect and luscious and bountiful and full of health and wonder and it sometimes leads us to set oddly high or distorted expectations of what eating is.
The truth is, food doesn’t always have to look glamorous or even taste amazing all the time. Truly. It’s fuel. Sometimes you eat things that are boring and eh or maybe things you don’t like. That’s life. And sometimes there’s more to eating than picture perfect or gourmet meals. Sometimes it’s about the social element. Sometimes it’s going with the flow.
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t really cook or style food or eat very boring food all of the time. In fact, I eat very boring food most of the time, I just don’t post all those meals and snacks to the internet.
There’s a lot more to life than food (which I know, is ironic to say on a food blog). But it’s true. Food is what gives you energy to do all the other things in life. So go ahead and eat boring food and make sh*t happen.
6. Waste less food
40 million Americans are food insecure, meaning they don’t have enough to eat. Yet 40% of the food produced in this country goes in the trash, and often to landfills (which is also sad, since most food scraps are compostable).
Food waste wastes not only food itself, but also energy, water, and resources required to grow, package and transport it.
Even if you don’t giving a flying crap about the planet, there’s a selfish reason to care: wasting food wastes a ton of money, meaning there should be an incentive for everyone to stop buying or ordering more than we’ll realistically use, storing food more wisely (make friends with your freezers fam, seriously), and being more crafty with leftovers.
7. Take a few seconds a day to appreciate the fact that you have food
Per reasons mentioned above. We live in a world of excess. Many of us walk around where food is everywhere, and in great abundance. Meanwhile, 40 million Americans don’t get enough to eat every year.
If you’re not food insecure, appreciate it. Truly. I firmly believe you can’t function at your maximum capacity when you are hungry.
8. Stop trying to ‘control your hormones’ with extreme diets and exercise habits
Lately, ‘mastering your hormones’ seems to be the fastest, easiest, and trendiest way to attract followers on social media.
It really makes me sad to see people with tons of power and influence promoting extreme regimes and unscientific potions to large audiences.
The truth is, nutrition is super complicated, as is the endocrine system. And an Instagramer with a shiny feed who appears to be a queen of ‘natural’ lifestyle knows nothing about your health or what your body needs.
While I have a background in nutrition, I am not your healthcare professional, nor are any of the references listed above. If you have a concern about your hormones and/or have lost your period, consider seeing a healthcare provider about it.
Many people suffer from hormonal imbalances and amenorrhea from under-eating, over-exercising, not sleeping enough, or being too stressed out. Robyn from the Real-Life RD writes some good stuff on this topic if you want to know more from someone who is actually educated in the stuff unlike so many self-proclaimed ‘wellness and lifestyle experts’ out there who maybe read one trendy pop-nutrition book or two.
But seriously, free yourself from believing that potion-and-mushroom-filled lattes and eliminating grains is how to fix
10. Prioritize sleep and stress reduction
For so many years, sleep and engaging in activities that lower my cortisol were the first things to go when I was busy or overwhelmed. But lately I’ve come to realize how crucial sleep + stress management are to physical and mental health.
11. Enjoy your food more
Life is too short. Eat dat ice cream.