YMCA offers advice on new habits for a healthy new year

By John L. Reilly - District Executive Director, Indian Valley Family YMCA
Regional - posted Thu., Jan. 16, 2014
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

Are your New Year's resolutions getting tougher and tougher to stick to? You're not alone. It's cold. The daily commute has been slippery more days than not, and the kids have had snow days, late openings, and early dismissals. It's getting just a little bit harder to find the motivation to keep that resolution to eat better and prepare nutritious meals. Cheer up! There's a little more sunshine every day, and there's still time to turn your New Year's resolutions into "All Year's" habits that will last! Here are some tips to get you started:

Prepare yourself to succeed: If your kitchen is your healthy meal workshop, then your spice cabinet is your healthy cooking toolbox. It's the place where you find flavor for your favorite meals. I dare you to reach into the back. Did little plastic containers fly off the shelf? Did you touch something that expired in the early 2000s? Remove everything from the shelves and evaluate what you have. If you don't know why you have it, or when you bought it, it's time to throw it out. Spices don't go bad, but they lose flavor over time. It's not easy to cook when your kitchen is cluttered! And don't forget your refrigerator. It's time to say goodbye to the mystery leftovers and expired condiments. Wipe the shelves down and get ready to restock and cook!

Get ahead of the time crunch: You may have every good intention to put a homemade meal on the table, but if you're crunched for time and a novice cook, whipping up a meal after work isn't a realistic goal. Instead, use a few hours on your day off to get ahead for the week. Choose a few recipes that are on your skill level and prepare them in advance. A few favorites in our house? Vegetarian chili, chickpea curry, and chicken soup. They're economical, feed a crowd, and freeze well. Once you've gotten in the habit of making dinner in advance, healthy meals will be old hat.

Keep the basics on hand: Having a well-stocked kitchen doesn't need to mean spending a lot of money. Try to have items like onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, pasta and eggs available. That chicken soup I mentioned? It's made by simmering vegetables and bones from leftover chicken. It's a whole new meal prepared for just a couple of dollars. You can feed an entire family for less than the cost of a can of soup if you've made it a habit to include a few basics on your shopping list.

Tell your friends: You'd be surprised how many people choose healthy eating as a New Year's goal. When you find success with a recipe, share it with a friend, and ask for suggestions in return. If you add just one or two new recipes to your repertoire each month, by the end of 2014 you'll have a host of delicious meals you can prepare for your family and friends. With a support system in place, you'll be motivated to keep trying new things, and keep up the healthy meal habit.

Have you stuck to your New Year's resolution? That's great! If you've fallen of the bandwagon (after all, it's not easy to resist pizza delivery when it's 6 below), don't despair. Start that kitchen cleanup this weekend, and get ready to take charge of your new habits for the rest of 2014!


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