Starting the New Year Right

With 2021 looking in some ways as bleak as 2020, it’s hard to think of this new year as a ‘fresh start.’  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m feeling more overwhelmed than usual right now, and that spin bike I ordered back in December?   It came early…but it’s still in the box. 

On the bright side, I’ve seen trends in nutrition moving in a more positive direction.  While processed foods still abound, it seems people in general are starting to ‘eat real food’ and view their health more holistically.  Here are some themes that are becoming more commonplace that you can adopt if you haven’t already.

  1. Take a plant-based approach.  ‘Meatless Monday’ is old news, but there are many ways to include more plants in your diet.  Breakfast cereals made with sunflower protein (try Seven Sundays brand), edamame mixes that can be zapped in the microwave for quick lunches and lentil chili for dinner are all easy ways to eat more plants.  Nuts and beans provide protein and fiber that help keep you feeling full longer than simple carbs.
  2. Support local and/or small businesses.  ‘Shopping Small’ isn’t new, but perhaps we forget about the hundreds of food-based businesses right in our backyards, and there’s no time like the present to support them.  We’re all struggling right now, and small businesses especially.   Shopping locally means keeping more money in your local economy and helping your neighbors (near or far) stay afloat.  Right here in the village we have options for fresh ground coffee (Kornerstone), fresh bread (Elm Street) and even a full grocery store (the Co-op).  Just 10 minutes outside the village, you can get local soap (Alpine Made), maple syrup (Weber’s) and more.  
  3. Cook more.  We all started cooking a whole lot more last year, and while restaurants are re-opening (yay!), I hope some of the home cooking is here to stay.  Cooking at home is lower in calories and fat and brings the whole family together.   It’s a great way to get the kids involved in meal planning, grocery shopping and food preparation.  During these cold winter months, big pots of soup and roasting meat and winter squash are great ideas.  Last year I wrote about making ‘power bowls,’ which are easy combinations of cooked meat or plant protein, paired with a grain (like rice) and cooked and fresh veggies topped with a store-bought or homemade dressing.  I’ve started making them once a week and it’s the easiest meal on the menu.  And don’t forget about the rotisserie chickens at the grocery store!  They make an easy main dish on busy nights, and can be combined with steam-in-the-bag veggies for a complete meal.
  4. Focus on both physical and mental health.  Food isn’t just about losing or maintaining your weight; it’s a part of our existence that’s meant to be enjoyed and benefit both our bodies and minds.  Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon and nuts and seeds) and B vitamins (meat, eggs, legumes, leafy greens) are good for our brains as well as the rest of our bodies.  With the shorter daylight and colder temps, everything we can do to boost our moods—such as eating foods with omega-3s and B vitamins—is a smart idea.

After writing about all these ways I can improve my health this year, I’m feeling ready to set up that bike!

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