New Year's Resolution Solutions A 2014 diet do-over is made simple with these healthy eating tips. By Stacey Stein The New Year is a time for making changes and starting fresh. Many of us have the best intentions, vowing to ditch our daily chocolate habit or whatever vice is separating us from becoming a healthier version of ourselves. Then a few weeks pass, and all too often we revert back to our old ways. If you’re truly committed to adopting a healthier lifestyle for the long-term, a thoughtful and realistic approach is crucial so that any resolutions you make will last well beyond January. “One of the biggest traps people fall into is starting off with unrealistic expectations,” says registered dietitian Shannon Crocker. “People set themselves up to fall off the wagon by setting ‘pie in the sky’ resolutions that they can’t reach.” You can avoid that pitfall by making simple, do-able changes to your daily diet. Here are a few that will go a long way towards helping you reach your goal of becoming healthier in the new year while fitting into your skinniest pair of skinny jeans. Add protein to your breakfast Whether it’s slathering cottage cheese on your toast, sprinkling some nuts or seeds on your yogurt or making an omelette with cheese, including protein at breakfast time is an important part of a healthy eating plan. “This will not only help keep you satisfied so you don’t reach for sweet snacks mid-morning, but it can also help with weight management,” says Crocker. Combined with physical activity, including protein at each meal helps in maintaining lean muscle mass, she adds. If you like starting off your day with a smoothie, you can try making an apple & kale smoothie, which includes protein-rich cottage cheese. Pressed for time in the morning? Try making this overnight protein-packed müesli. Swap your sandwich for a salad Most of us don’t get enough veggies, which are a key part of any healthy eating plan. You can load up on veggies by replacing your lunchtime sandwich with a salad. “This is also a great way to reduce refined grains and sandwich meats – foods we want to eat less of,” says Crocker. Start off with a dark leafy green like kale, swiss chard or spinach, and build from there, adding in ingredients like quinoa, berries, avocados, beets, cucumbers or tomatoes. Nuts and cottage cheese will give your salad a protein boost, as will legumes like chickpeas or lentils. Dial down the meat at dinner Lighten up your dinner plate by reducing the amount of meat, and replace it with vegetables. Crocker recommends filling half your dinner plate with veggies. A quarter should be meat or an alternative protein and the other quarter should be a whole grain or a complex carbohydrate (such as quinoa, brown rice or a baked potato.) “Think of meat more as the side, with veggies as the main dish,” says Crocker. “A diet rich in vegetables and other plant foods – such as legumes, nuts and seeds – has been found to be beneficial to health, reducing the risk for heart disease and certain cancers.” You can also aim to go meatless at least once a week. Try making tacos using your favourite veggies, some kidney beans and cheese, or you can make these veggie pancakes with cottage cheese. Chickpeas and lentils are also great meat alternatives – you can try this lentil and cumin soup, which incorporates several veggies while also packing a protein punch from the lentils. Eat dessert, but make it fruit Who doesn’t love something sweet after dinner? Unfortunately, the temptation is usually to reach for a treat laden with calories and fat (cookies and cake come to mind.) “Having fruit for dessert can satisfy the sweet craving while also nourishing your body,” says Crocker. Including a dip makes fruit fun for kids. These grilled fruit kabobs include a delicious dip, which can also be served with fresh fruit. For days when you want a special treat, try squirting a dollop of whipped cream onto a small piece of dark chocolate – this is bound to satisfy your sweet tooth! Say goodbye to sugary beverages Cut out drinks like iced tea, pop, juice or sweetened coffee beverages and you’ll be cutting out a ton of calories from your daily diet. “Those drinks can sabotage your healthy eating plan in just a few gulps,” says Crocker. Instead, quench your thirst with water – it has zero calories and sugar, and will keep you hydrated so that you feel energized throughout the day. Crocker recommends filling up a one-litre bottle of water in the morning and making sure you drink at least that much during the day. The final word As you work towards eating healthier this year, make sure you set goals that are manageable. For example, try kick starting your day with a cup of hot water and freshly squeezed lemon juice (great for digestion) rather than a sweetened coffee beverage, or try taking stairs instead of an elevator. A few times a week, try swapping your packaged snack for a piece of fresh fruit or some nuts. “Don’t try to change your whole life at once,” advises Crocker. “You’ll feel good when you set small goals you can achieve, and you can build from there.” You can also keep yourself honest by writing down your healthy eating New Year resolutions and keeping track of your progress (yes, there are apps for that.) “You can even tell your friends or family – this will help you stay accountable,” Crocker suggests.