Healthy Habits to Start the New Year

Healthy Habits to Start the New Year

Karen Deputy, NTP Karen Deputy, NTP
16 minute read

The start of the new year can lead millions of people to make quite lofty resolutions. In the nutrition sphere, these resolutions can include “I will eat healthy this year,” “I’m swearing off sugar,” and the seemingly ever-present “I will lose weight this year.”

You Are Enough

We’d like to start this year off by acknowledging that no matter how much your social media feed is trying to convince you otherwise, You. Are. Enough. Just the way you are today, you are enough. You don't need to change anything about yourself to be worthy of respect and love. 

That being said, establishing healthy habits can be good for both body and mind. Here at Curated Wellness, we prefer to set goals instead of making resolutions. Why is that? Resolutions can be an intention or an open-ended promise to reach an end result without much thought as to how to accomplish the desired result, whereas a goal can be more of a commitment and can have actionable steps to achieve the desired result. 


Why Healthy Habits?

Healthy habits can be goals too, and we usually suggest setting one or two that feel attainable. When we can accomplish the goals we’ve set for ourselves, we are more likely to keep the habit in place. Try a new habit or two for a month, and then have a quick check-in with yourself. How did it go? Did you accomplish your goal? What were the challenges? And what were the successes? After you’ve had an honest evaluation, you can decide if you want to set some additional healthy-habit goals or if you need more time to really nail down the previous ones. 


When we think of resolutions, we often phrase them in a negative tone—“I’m going to cut out alcohol,” “I’m not going to eat carbs after 2 pm,” or “I’m going to skip breakfast so I can lose weight.” This is another reason we like to set healthy-habit goals instead—we can add habits instead of removing things that can make us feel deprived. 

It’s important to keep goals actionable and manageable to set yourself up for success. If you feel accomplished after achieving your goals, you'll be more likely to continue with them and feel ready to add more. For example, I write about the healthy habit goal of drinking more water below. If drinking that much water (whatever that number is for you) seems daunting, break it down into a more manageable goal. Instead of having a number goal, try a different approach like having a few sips of water first thing in the morning—that’s it, that can be the goal. 

Small, healthy habits can really add up over the year and significantly impact your physical and mental health. What if one of the goals is to add a 15-minute walk outside after lunch on weekdays? That would be over 60 hours of walking for the year, which is quite an amazing outcome for a simple, completely attainable goal of 15 minutes a day. Not only would you benefit from the exercise, but you would benefit from getting some fresh air every day, and having a few minutes to yourself, which can be a tremendously beneficial stress management strategy!


What are some examples of healthy-habit goals? Check out the list below and see if any of these align with your intentions for 2022. 


glass pitcher of water with lemon slices


Drink More Water

We might sound like a broken record on this one—however, being adequately hydrated is crucial to good health and is an easily attainable goal. Water is integral to the digestion and elimination process. Dehydration can lead to headaches, dry mouth, cravings, fatigue, muscle cramps, anxiety, and even difficulty concentrating. 


Creating a goal to drink the proper amount of water can be a great place to start when it comes to beginning healthy habits. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily (up to 100oz), as a rule of thumb. For example, a 180-pound person should aim to consume 90 ounces of water a day. Many factors vary, but it is a good guideline to start with. 


If the number of ounces is overwhelming, start with a smaller goal. Try to drink 48 ounces of water a day, and once you've have mastered that at the end of the month, add a few more ounces. Once you've mastered the habit of drinking water, it should become easier to add to the amount. If that goal doesn’t suit your needs, you could try replacing your afternoon soda with a glass of flavored sparkling water. 

Eat More Fruits and Veggies

An overwhelming amount of American adults do not eat nearly the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables1.  Adding more fruits and vegetables into your day can be a wonderful new habit to start. Eating more fruits and vegetables will add a variety of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants too2


It can be overwhelming (and a little rough on the tummy) to jump right into consuming nine servings of fruits and vegetables if you are not used it. We recommend starting slowly and adding one serving at a time. Once you have one serving of fruits or vegetables at every meal and snack, add from there. 


When first building this habit, pick one meal or snack for the first week that we would like to add a serving of fruit or veggies. This can look like enjoying some berries with your breakfast—delicious on top of oatmeal or yogurt; layering some lettuce and tomato onto your sandwich at lunch; having some carrots and cucumbers with hummus or an apple with peanut butter for a snack, and adding a small salad to your dinner plate. 


Think of adding these foods to what we are already eating, and it can make for an easier transition to enjoying more fruits and vegetables. Remember, every bit counts. For example, salsa on scrambled eggs—totally counts. Extra pickles on a sandwich—yup, that counts too. And tomato sauce on top of pasta—of course, it counts! 

Eat More Greens

Maybe your healthy habit goal is more specific when it comes to vegetables. We’ve all heard that leafy greens are exceptionally good for us, and maybe you'd like to take advantage of all their nutritional benefits. Leafy greens vary in their nutrient profiles, but they all tend to be high in fiber, folate, manganese, vitamin K1, and rich in antioxidants3


Like with the goal of eating more fruits and vegetables, begin your goal of eating more greens slowly. Pick one meal to start with and experiment with adding some greens. 


For breakfast, try adding baby spinach to a smoothie or to scrambled eggs. At lunch, add some arugula to a wrap or sandwich. Enjoy a soup with some chopped kale included. Add a small salad to dinner, or try some cabbage or bok choy in a stir-fry. 


You can also supplement your healthy habit with some powdered greens. Read more about Super Green Powder in this in-depth review. 

avocado toast with a sunny side up egg on top


Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast within an hour of waking can set us up with stable energy throughout the day and can support hormonal balance. Who wouldn’t want to make that a habit? 


The first meal of the day should be well balanced with carbohydrates, protein, and fat to keep you satisfied and fueled all morning. Other than that, if you choose this healthy habit as your goal, there are no other rules. Breakfast doesn’t have to be made up of breakfast foods. If you love smoothies, oatmeal, or eggs in the morning, that’s fantastic. However, if you would rather have some of last night’s tacos, that’s great too. 

Healthy Snacks

Maybe your goal to start the year is to healthify your snacks. For many of us, snacking can be a last-minute decision we haven’t planned for, and we grab something sweet or salty from the vending machine or pantry. And sometimes it's just a coffee hoping for a blast of energy. 


Snacking in between meals can be a great strategy to keep blood sugar stable as well as supporting hormone balance. Not to mention, we can use snacks as an opportunity to add an extra bit of nutrients to our day. 


Keep snacks well-balanced, making sure to include a protein or fat to balance out any carbohydrates. Fruit and nut butters are a favorite snack, but the possibilities are endless. Think of the foods you tend to enjoy at snack time and find ways to balance them. If you find yourself reaching for something salty,  try a combo of crackers, jerky, or sliced deli meat, alongside some olives or cheese. If a good crunch is what you like, crisp, fresh veggies and hummus or guacamole can satisfy that craving. Fruit can be a wonderful way to satisfy a sweet tooth, add some nuts, cheese, or a hard-boiled egg alongside, and that fruit will keep you satiated for a few hours. 


Choosing to have a well-balanced snack leads us to the next healthy habit we can cultivate. 

Meal Plan

Meal planning and prepping can often go hand in hand—however, we can break it down and start the habits slowly. There are many different ways to meal plan, and it can take some time to figure out what works best. The first thing to remember about meal planning is that it is a guideline. It is not a hard and fast rule that you are committed to no matter what. 


An easy way to get started with meal planning is first to decide which meal or meals you are going to plan and then spend a few minutes looking at your schedule for the week ahead to get an idea of how much time you will be able to spend on pulling meals together. 


It’s common to start meal planning with dinners. Take a quick look in your refrigerator and pantry to see what you already have on hand and plan around that to keep both food waste and your grocery bill to a minimum. Take family favorites into consideration. Does everyone enjoy spaghetti? Add it to the meal plan. Llooking for sauce inspiration? Check out this easy ragu recipe


Some people find having themes for different days of the week to be helpful—Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, or Soup and Sammies Sunday. Others find it helpful to take a few minutes and make a list of family favorites and rotate through them. Including the family in making this list can be very helpful and eye-opening. You might have forgotten that your daughter loves the chicken stir-fry you made a while ago. 


Keep in mind that not every dinner needs to be a 5-star restaurant-worthy meal Do you have a busy night with lots of sports practices and music lessons? Plan on picking up a rotisserie chicken and a bagged salad, alongside some microwaved rice. 


Meal planning is an excellent way to ensure you have healthy snacks on hand, especially if that is also one of the other habits you're cultivating. In fact, you can start meal planning with just snacks, to begin with, making sure you have your favorite veggies, hummus, fruits, and nuts on the grocery list. 

Meal Prep

Like meal planning, meal prep can be done in a million different ways. And once you find what works, meal prep can be a game-changer. Some find that washing and chopping all the veggies for the week is enough to get dinner on the table faster. Others like to prep entire meals that just need to be reheated at mealtime. And still, others find prepping a little bit of everything helps mix & match meals easy to throw together. Some people like to batch cook, which means if you are grilling chicken for easy salads this week, grill extra to have in the freezer to use in the upcoming weeks. Batch cooking is a great strategy for soups and chili since they freeze well. 


Another favorite way to meal prep is to take an hour or two on a day when you have time to prep some of the basics that you need for the week, and to get a jumpstart on the cooking process. For example, utilize an hour on a Sunday to clean and chop any veggies for salad and side dishes, hard boil some eggs, start some overnight oatmeal, and make sure we have defrosted anything we need from the freezer for the week ahead. 


You don’t have to start with jumping into prepping all meals for the week. Start simply by prepping lunche with a large pot of soup for the week or prep vegetables and toppings for a hearty salad. Or simply make sure to have everything you need for your favorite sandwiches ready to go and easy to grab. 


One of the easiest meals to prep for the week is breakfast with a large pot of oatmeal that can be portioned out all week, a batch of waffles that can be toasted in the morning, or a baked egg casserole that just needs a quick reheat. 

Get Enough Sleep 

Simply put, most of us are woefully lacking quality sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most adults need more than 7 hours of sleep nightly, with most of us benefiting from a 9-hour sleep cycle4.  Sleep is critically important to our health. Our body and brain recover from the daily grind when we sleep. 


Getting enough sleep can be difficult, especially in a society where we wear our fatigue and lack of sleep as a badge of honor. Ease into this healthy habit by creating simple goals around sleep. Create an optimal sleeping space by sleeping in a cool, dark room. Begin a sleep hygiene routine by setting an adult bedtime, taking a warm bath or shower before bed, and putting down electronics an hour or two before bedtime.  Choose reading a book or a meditation practice instead of scrolling through social media to wind down. Start small by getting to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual the first week, and then add another 15 minutes the next week, and continue until we can gift ourselves 7-9 hours of sleep a night, on a regular basis. 

If you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, there are many solutions our NTP team can help you find. 


Spend Some Time Being Social 

Many of us have spent the past year and a half socially isolated from those around us. And we might need to set ourselves up with a goal of becoming social again. Socializing benefits both our mental and physical health. Research has suggested that an active social life is associated with a stronger immune system and decreased feelings of depression5.  


Start the goal of a more robust social life with small steps. Maybe this week the goal is to take 20 minutes and call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Or maybe set up a coffee date with the new parent at our child’s school. It can be as simple as walking around the block and catching up with the neighbors. Choosing to include social interactions as part of your goal-setting can help create and strengthen your support system. 



What goals can you set at the beginning of this new year?

Setting actionable and attainable goals can set us up for year-long success in cultivating healthy habits. Once you have achieved one or two goals, you can take a moment at the beginning of the next month and ask yourself if you would like to add on another healthy habit goal for February. Taking a few minutes at the beginning of every month to evaluate progress toward our goals and make decisions about steps we can take going forward is a much more sustainable way to incorporate healthy habits into our lifestyle than simply declaring lofty New Years’ resolutions. 

Choosing the healthy habits that make the most sense for you and your health goals can be overwhelming. Our practitioners here at Curated are here to help guide you to choosing the right healthy habit goals for you at the start of 2022. Book an appointment to have an accountability partner to help keep you on track.




About the Author

Karen became a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner after her own medical crisis and autoimmune diagnosis led her on a journey of discovering how vital proper nutrition is to feeling happy and healthy. She became passionate about helping others regain their energy and sense of well-being through food and lifestyle choices. Karen lives in Southern California with her family and can be found outdoors most of the time. She loves helping clients find the joy of creating delicious foods that nourish their mind, body and spirit. Read more about Karen.

The information presented on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Statements within this site have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any specific condition or disease, nor is it medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health conditions or concerns. One should always consult a qualified medical professional before engaging in any dietary and/or lifestyle change or new health program. Curated Wellness does not take responsibility for any health consequences of any person or persons following the information in this educational content. 


References:

One https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/division-information/media-tools/adults-fruits-vegetables.html 

2 Slavin, J. L., & Lloyd, B. (2012). Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 3(4), 506–516. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.002154

3 Ballantyne, Sarah. The health benefits of leafy greens. ThePaleoMom. September 17,2020. https://www.thepaleomom.com/the-health-benefits-of-leafy-greens/

4 Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, Bliwise DL, Buxton OM, Buysse D, Dinges DF, Gangwisch J, Grandner MA, Kushida C, Malhotra RK, Martin JL, Patel SR, Quan SF, Tasali E. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: a joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. J Clin Sleep Med 2015;11(6):591–592.

5 Troyer, PhD, Angela. The Health Benefits of socializing. Psychology Today. June 30, 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-mild-cognitive-impairment/201606/the-health-benefits-socializing

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