Eat more veggies! Go Paleo! Skip the processed plates. Only eat out once a week. Bring your lunch four days a week. Eat green! Think green! You can make every food-related New Year's resolution under the Tuscan sun at the start of the new year, and get about a week's worth out of it too, before life happens and the delicate balance you've been resting on abruptly shifts. The unwritten rule surrounding resolutions is that you shouldn't make them, but I'm calling B.S. You totally should make resolutions at the start of the new year. That whole "new year, new you!" thing is actually really awesome when you think about it. You aren't starting over completely from scratch, but you get the chance to set yourself up for a great year — and start out on the right foot.
The challenge, though, is knowing which resolutions will make you happier, healthier, and keep you motivated, without feeling like you've failed or committed treason every time you sneak a cookie or help yourself to thirds. Instead, try to make attainable, all-encompassing resolutions that go with the flow of your life — instead of working against you.
So make your plates bigger, your dishes brighter, and your food resolutions more reasonable than ever.
1. Try a new veggie every week, every other week, or once in a blue moon.
Making a laundry list of new vegetables to try at meal times is really hard — and totally unrealistic. Keep in mind that eating a new veggie every meal means finding the time to shop for them, finding recipes that include these ingredients, and still having enough time to live your life in the meantime. So instead of holding yourself to an unrealistic and expensive goal, just try to shop smarter — and be daring when you can. Instead of sticking with your standby, buy a veggie you've never cooked with before; if you're hosting a dinner party, throw a wild and crazy veggie dish on the menu. If you're planning a romantic night in for two, ask your partner for a veggie suggestion they've always wanted to try but have been too scared to, and then cook it.
2. Plan to cheat.
Everybody cheats. Especially on resolutions. So don't feign shock, OK? You know you're already planning next Sunday's cheat day menu as I type this. So instead of feeling guilty about "cheating," work those little hiccups into your 2015 playbook. The more honest and OK you are about cheating on a strict plan, the less likely you are to overdo it. And guilt about being guilty is way worse than sneaking an extra scoop of Cookie Butter and feeling good about it.
3. Screw greens. Aim for a rainbow-filled plate.
Replace that feeling of dread that comes with knowing you have to add a little greenery to your plate by just promising to eat more colors. Red, yellow, purple, blue, black, brown, green... the more diverse and bright your plate looks, the healthier you dish most likely is! (Unless the contents of your plate are Starbursts gummies, because in that case, we should take this outside...) Instead of harping on what veggie you'll try, think about it like this: What color am I missing?
4. Host more dinner parties.
Feeling blah about your weekly menu for one? It's hard to cook for just yourself (or just you and your partner) because you can get caught in a boring routine. The solution? Plan more dinner parties. Nine out of 10 times, your group of friends are making the same food goals as you — be healthier, fitter, and more in control of what you're eating — so chances are they'll be down for a Food Club. If you thought cooking for two was boring, wait until you are planning menus for five or seven! You'll be able to experiment more, and when you're suddenly back to cooking for two on your nights "off," you won't feel so limited.
5. Make it a rule to eat around the world.
OK, you maybe can't afford to travel to all these far-and-away cities, but you can afford to eat your way through them shamelessly. When you're thinking about your weekly or monthly menu, pick a place on a map, do a little research, and plan a meal from start-to-finish that captures the essence of that place. Include everything from drinks to dessert in your plan. Without even thinking about it, you'll be stepping out of your comfort zone and into brand new flavor territory.
6. Don't be afraid to DIY your favorite dishes.
You're a relentless DIY pinner, but when it comes to actually stepping up to the plate and seeing these dishes through, you tend to air way more on the side of caution. It's so much easier to buy prepackaged jam, you tell yourself — and way less time-intensive. Bullcrap, is what I say. You've been obsessively pinning these dishes because you want to make them, so carve time out of your schedule and do it. Stop making excuses, stop putting it off — just do it. And if you're still terrified of tackling homemade pierogies on your own, phone a friend, tell her to bring over a bottle of wine, and try it out together. If you eat the evidence, no one will know.
Images: Slice of Chic/Flickr; Getty (6)