With the new year approaching, for many this is as good a time as any to set some health goals for the upcoming year.
In an ideal world, you would wake up a “new you” on Rosh Hashanah, able to achieve all of your goals immediately, but this just isn’t how it works for most people. As a result, even those chocolate lovers and exercise haters who vow to quit chocolate cold turkey and start exercising daily after the holiday often find themselves skipping the gym to eat candy only days or weeks later.
The reason many health goals fail is that they are often too far removed from the routines we already have in place.
Instead of trying to redesign your entire routine from scratch, the key to setting sustainable health goals is to pick one area that you feel you could improve on and then continuously ask yourself: “How different is this goal from what I am already doing?” “Do I feel like this is achievable in my everyday life?”
Maybe you don’t eat breakfast every morning, or maybe your meals could use a few more servings of vegetables and fruit. So pick a specific goal, one that you can easily measure over a period of time, such as incorporating six servings of vegetables and fruit every day for a week, and work on that until it becomes part of your daily routine before you move on to another goal.
To up your fruit and vegetable game, when choosing snacks, why not add a handful of blueberries to a yogurt, or enjoy some homemade trail mix with almonds and raisins.
Or at lunch and dinner, incorporate vegetables into dishes you are already eating, in addition to enjoying them on their own. (This is also a great way to introduce picky eaters to vegetables by including them in one of their favourite foods!).
Preparing a large batch of sautéed vegetables early in the week makes it easy to toss them into omelets, add them to a meatloaf mixture, use as part of a rice or pasta dish, or use as a base for a delicious vegetable soup. (See below for an easy and delicious zucchini squash soup, a silky smooth and delicious way to up your vegetable intake.)
Even with these ideas, implementing diet changes can be challenging. You can hope to have every meal and snack heaping with vegetables and fruit, but what about those hectic weeks when grocery shopping doesn’t quite happen? Or those crazy mornings when you can hardly get yourself out the door, and your snacks get left behind?
Keeping a food log is a great way to address not only whether or not you’ve been able to achieve your goals, but also the aspects of your life that are making change so difficult. Write down not only whether or not you were able to achieve your goal that day, but also what was going on at the time. If you never have time to prepare your fruit for snacks because you are running late in the morning, maybe your first step is setting the alarm 10 minutes earlier.
No matter what you choose as your goal, the most important thing is to remember that you can’t expect change overnight. Though you might have an overarching goal for the year, such as losing weight or improving cardiovascular health, picking specific areas of your health to improve and setting smaller, more achievable “mini-goals” can act as motivation to attempt larger changes and make them more sustainable in the long term.
Healthy vegetable soup
o 1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded
o 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
o 3 large zucchinis
o 1 large sweet potato (with skin), roughly chopped
o 4 cloves of garlic
o 6 cups water or chicken broth
o salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender. Allow to cool slightly and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Enjoy.