As we enter 2015 with a proverbial clean slate (or should it be clean plate?), no doubt we will be bombarded with various diets and exercise regimens all in the name of losing weight, one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Here we present to you some alternatives to carry you into 2015, so that you hopefully won’t have to remake next year.
Eat more mindfully
Translation: Put away your phone, step away from your computer and turn off your TV when eating. Since when did having a meal become synonymous with using electronics?
How to do it: Sit down and savor each bite – pay attention to the flavors and textures. When you’re eating, think about your food and only your food. Your homework can wait. I promise your phone will still be there when you’re done eating.
Benefits: Eating is no longer a chore or a banal necessity. Rather, it becomes a sensory and pleasurable experience. Eating mindfully may also inadvertently cause you to eat more slowly and consequently, less. Enjoy your food and lose weight? Radical, I know.
Reduce food waste
Translation: Stop throwing all your groceries away.
How to do it: This might take some food planning, which means looking in your fridge to check what you already have and then deciding what you want to make. Make a list and stick to the list at the store. It will also behoove you to plan what you’re making on what day, so you actually end up using what you buy. Check out this article for more tips on how to grocery shop wisely.
Benefits: You might be able to rest a little more easily at night knowing that you’re contributing less to the approximately 35 million tons of food waste America generates each year. This across the world amounts to about one-third of the food we grow going into the garbage, so it’s no wonder that freeganism is catching on.
On the list of types of foods that are ultimately wasted, fruits and vegetables are at the top, evidence that perhaps a little more food planning and realism about what we actually consume is in order. If anything, at least your paltry college wallet will thank you.
Eat less meat and seafood
Translation: A vegetarian meal doesn’t have to be a boring salad.
How to do it: If you’re used to eating meat and seafood daily, it may take some adjustment, but it’s not as hard as people might assume. You will need some inspiration and perhaps a bit more of the aforementioned food planning. A plethora of vegetarian cookbooks, food blogs and recipes are just a click away.
The bottom line is that you have to do a little bit of learning (which is why, I hope, you’re in college). Start a little at a time, for example, Meatless Mondays, and go from there. Flexitarianism might also be an option to consider.
Benefits: Health effects and animal ethics aside, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we Americans eat a lot of meat. The resulting environmental impact, on our land and our oceans, is particularly concerning. I don’t think this means we all need to give up eating meat, but small changes multiplied over many people can amount to something big.
Play with new ingredients
Translation: Be curious about food.
How to do it: Whether you decide to explore all the ways you can cook an ingredient you’ve never tried or explore cuisines from different cultures, something new is always waiting on the horizon of your food journey. Explore a section of the grocery store you’ve always passed by without a second glance. Go to Sahara Mart and smell all the spices on their shelves. Then take one home to try. Cook a new recipe or read about a dish you’ve never heard before – Spoon has a learn section just for this purpose.
Benefits: By employing new-found flavor combinations, your taste buds will be awakened from their monotonous stupor. You will dazzle your friends and romantic interests alike with your MasterChef skills. You will enter a cook-off, and you will win (or at least you will earn points in the cook-off called life).
Stop feeling guilty
Translation: Eat what you really want to and make it count.
How to do it: As I hypocritically tell you how to eat, I want to remind you that nobody can tell you how to eat. If you want a real cheeseburger, cook the meat to the doneness you like best and be choosy with your cheese. Don’t eat it because it’s there – eat it because it’s your favorite, or it reminds you of home or whatever other reason. Savor it and don’t second-guess.
Benefits: Eat in a way that’s sustainable and sits right with you. However you want to eat, there’s a way to do it, and there’s a way to do it well. Food, after all, can satisfy the body, the mind, and the soul.