Healthier Health Goals for the New Year

Joy Song

At the beginning of 2023, you might have started on a diet or set a New Year’s resolution of losing weight in an effort to make a positive lifestyle change. But consider the underlying reason behind why you created the goal. Was it the feeling of guilt from how you ate during the holiday season? The desire to please someone? The majority of people give up on their New Year resolutions by February, and oftentimes, it’s because they set their resolution for someone else instead of themselves. This year, I encourage you to restructure your resolutions to be less appearance-oriented and more focused on living a healthier lifestyle. You’ll be inclined to eat in a wholesome manner if your motivation is to feel energized, to have confidence, and to ensure longevity. I’ll be sharing some habits that can help you in achieving your goal of eating and feeling healthy.

Adopt an adding, not subtracting mindset. Diets frequently include a list of “off-limit” foods. However, when you simply focus on subtracting foods, this mindset can cause you to have a lot of anxiety around food in the future, as you will likely worry and obsess about the foods you can’t have. Instead, try adopting an adding mindset. There’s no food that is off-limits; the goal is to make sure that every time you eat, there’s a source of protein, fat, and fiber (fruits and vegetables). This ensures that you will feel full and energized for a longer period of time. For example, when you eat a cookie, it’s not quite satiating (since it mostly contains carbohydrates and no fiber). You usually eat three to feel full. Next time, eat the cookie, and add a side of yogurt, topped with blueberries and peanut butter. By intentionally creating balanced snacks/meals, you’ll naturally consume more nutrient-dense foods. 

Food prep at the start of a week. If you want to make it easier for yourself to eat healthy, prepare your food ahead of time. Food prep looks different depending on your preferences and situation, but for starters, wash and cut up fruits and vegetables at the beginning of the week. This helps make the healthier option more accessible, because when you want a snack, the choice of a piece of fruit or granola bar is equally convenient. Additionally, you can supplement your meals with satiating foods. Whether it’s school lunches or take-out, they might be composed with a larger proportion of carbohydrates, and not enough fiber or protein for you to feel full. By cooking a recipe like a 15-minute sheet pan chicken and veggies, you’re being proactive in ensuring that your meals can be balanced and healthy even during the busiest of weeks.  

Eat meals with undivided attention. We all have busy lives, and I know there are times when we have to bring the food to our desk. However, I strongly encourage you to be more intentional about scheduling 30-minute blocks of time into your day to sit down and eat your meals with no distractions. When you eat while typing an essay or watching a show, chances are you’re paying attention to whatever is happening on the screen rather than the food you’re consuming. As a result, you might accidentally overeat. According to studies, you eat more when you multitask because it’s easier to miss satiety cues, like seeing how much food is gone from your plate or feeling that your stomach is comfortably full. Eating without distractions helps decrease the odds of overeating as you can be mindful of things like how much you’ve eaten and fullness cues.

The new year is an ideal time to set resolutions and work towards them. Behind every successful resolution is a compelling “why”; a strong reason gives you continuous motivation to work toward your goal. Since your health is the cumulative result of daily actions that compound over time, remember to create a goal regarding your health that is rooted in an enduring reason, one that will provide you with enough drive to eventually say that you’ve completed your resolution when a new year arrives.