After weeks of heavy holiday meals, sugary cookies and festive cocktail parties, most of us are trying to clean up our eating. And that usually involves cutting out things, from fried foods to dairy. Sometimes, though, being too strict can backfire, causing us to crave those foods to the point of caving and binging on them. “To improve your nutrition and health in a way that is sustainable throughout the year, consider thinking about what you can add to your diet or life, rather than focusing on what to subtract,” suggests Anne Mauney, Washington, D.C.-based registered dietician who is also mom to a 13-month-old daughter.
Here are some ideas from Mauney on what to add to your life to make this year your healthiest one yet.
Add More Veggies To Your Meals
Salad is fine, but not your only option here. “If you’re a sandwich fan and not really into salads, simply add some veggies onto your sandwich, or raw on the side! I love broccoli slaw on sandwiches—crunchy and it doesn’t change the flavor,” suggests Mauney, who also throws extra veggies into pasta dishes or serves dinner on top of wilted spinach.
Pump Up the Protein and Fat at Breakfast
“There’s nothing wrong with carbs unless we are only eating carbs (I’m looking at you, piece of fruit, or instant oatmeal with water, or bagel) without any protein and fat to give the meal (or snack) staying power,” says Mauney. Try adding in eggs, milk or avocado for a breakfast that will keep you full for hours.
Include a Carb at Lunch
Mauney says intentionally adding a carb at lunch can prevent serious sugar cravings into the afternoon. And speaking of afternoon—snack on something healthy in the hours between lunch and dinner, so you’re not tempted to nibble on cheese and crackers while making dinner. “Not getting too hungry also makes it much easier to be mindful of eating slowly and not ending the meal too full,” says Mauney.
Sip on More Water Throughout the Day
A great water bottle is key to making this a success, says Mauney. Choose one that lets you infuse fruit into your drink and you might just drink more without thinking about it.
Put In One Extra Workout Each Week
If you’re already working out most days, great—rest days are crucial. But if there’s room in your schedule, add a workout that you enjoy, says Mauney: “Exercise should be your fun ‘me time.’”
Get More Sleep
No mom gets as much sleep as she wants, but simply going to bed a half hour earlier can set you up for weight loss success. Says Mauney: “Getting adequate sleep makes healthy eating (and crushing workouts) way easier. It will also help with your sugar cravings!”