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Screw All-or-Nothing Resolutions: Take Small Steps Instead

Abigail Libers
Jan 6, 2020

Yep, we said it: Screw New Year’s resolutions. Specifically, the extreme “health-focused” kind that follow trendy diets or require severe food restriction. Is it any wonder that 80 percent of people break their resolution by January 12? 

At Freshly, we believe in taking a more sustainable approach to healthy eating—one that you can maintain well past January. “Resolutions imply that your good behavior will eventually come to an end,” explains Emily Navarro, RDN. “But when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to make healthy changes that will last a lifetime.” The key? Taking small, sustainable steps each day. Here, Navarro shows you how:

The All-or-Nothing Resolution: I'm quitting sugar!

The Freshly Solution: Eat less sugar

Why: Sugar has become public enemy no. 1 in recent years—and for good reason. High sugar intake increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease according to a report from Harvard Medical School. But resolving to quit sugar altogether is simply unrealistic. A better idea: Consume less added sugar, which lurks in everything from flavored yogurt to barbecue sauce

Small steps to do it: A good place to start is by cutting back on sugary drinks. “Soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and bottled teas can be huge sugar bombs,” says Navarro. “Instead of sweetened beverages, go for sparkling water and add a slice of fruit and a sprig of fresh herbs like basil or mint to add flavor.” When it comes to hot drinks, skip that vanilla latte and order a plain one instead. “With more than 30 grams of sugar, a medium vanilla latte is more like dessert than coffee!” notes Navarro. 

Other sneaky sources of sugar include: sweetened yogurt, sauces, and dressings. Check the ingredients list and be on the lookout for words like: corn syrups, cane sugar, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, fructose—all of which indicate added sugar. 

The All-or-Nothing Resolution: I’m swearing off junk food!

The Freshly Solution: Eat less processed foods

Why: Ultra-processed and packaged foods like breakfast cereals and chips make up over 60 percent of the American diet, research shows. That’s a problem since the additives and chemical preservatives often found in these foods have been linked to health concerns like obesity. And while cutting all processed  foods from your diet is a noble idea, it’s pretty unrealistic (life is too crazy busy!). 

Instead, Navarro suggests reducing the number of ultra-processed foods you eat. Think: packaged convenience foods containing artificial sweeteners, chemical preservatives (like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate), artificial colors, artificial flavor and texture enhancers (like hydrogenated oils and MSG), and refined starches (like bleached, refined white flour).

Small steps to do it: “Focus on eating more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds,” suggests Navarro. A good way to do this? Plan your meals ahead, which will help you avoid making last-minute decisions and defaulting to fast food or takeout, says Navarro. Make a grocery list, and shop the perimeter of the store to stock up on fresh, single-ingredient foods like nuts, eggs, veggies, and fruit.

When you do eat packaged foods, check the ingredients list before you buy. “If you see something unfamiliar, it’s likely an ultra-processed ingredient,” says Navarro. Common offenders include: chemical preservatives (like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate), artificial colors, artificial flavor and texture enhancers (like hydrogenated oils and MSG), and refined starches (like bleached, refined white flour). 

The All-or-Nothing Resolution: I’m going keto/vegan/extreme!

The Freshly Solution: Eat more nutrients

Why: There’s nothing wrong with trying a trendy diet once in a while but if you’re looking for long-term results, it’s better to adopt a way of eating that’s truly sustainable. That’s why our advice is to skip fad diets and aim to eat more nutrients instead. Nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, high quality proteins, and healthy fats will help improve your overall health (and may even help you lose weight!). 

Small steps to do it: Our number one recommendation is to eat more vegetables. “Set a small goal to include a vegetable with lunch or dinner and build on that until you get to at least 3 cups a day—bonus if you get more!” Aim to eat more fruit, too, which most people don’t get enough of. “Though fruit is a natural source of sugar, it’s also an important source of nutrients and antioxidants that can stave off heart disease and cancer,” says Navarro. Instead of reaching for a cookie after dinner, try fresh fruit. 

Another great way to eat more veggies? Sneak them into some of your favorite meals: Replace up to half of the ground meat in recipes with mushrooms (like we do with our Turkey and Mushroom Meatloaf), and sub in riced veggies like cauliflower and broccoli for some or all of the rice in a dish. 

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Screw All-or-Nothing Resolutions: Take Small Steps Instead