2020 is finally over! With the turn of the year comes the infamous New Year's resolutions. Unfortunately, these resolutions are often shaped by diet messages that clutter social media feeds such as losing X amount of pounds, cutting out certain food groups, or following a specific diet trend. Don’t start your new year off with unattainable resolutions clouded by the diet industry. Rather than focusing on all the things that you need to take away, prioritize all the things that you can add to be the best version of yourself in the New Year. Resolve to have an organized, healthy, and joyous year by implementing several of these simple and attainable practices to make 2021 your year.

1. Learn to Cook

Everyone loves good food, so why not learn how to make good food? Cooking is a fun, lifelong skill that allows your creativity to thrive in the kitchen and is an important tool for a healthy lifestyle. Especially on a college budget, eating out and Postmates quickly drain the bank accounts. Cooking allows you to experiment in the kitchen, eat healthier, and budget your money. You don't need to make an elaborate, five-star meal; sometimes, the simplest meals leave you the most satisfied. With countless cookbooks, videos, and articles both online and in print, learning to cook is easier than ever.

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2. Support Local Restaurants

With restaurants currently being limited to takeout and drive through in LA county and most of California,  it is our job as citizens to support local restaurants. Restaurants have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many suffering closures or huge financial losses. Supporting local restaurants is supporting the community to stimulate the local economy and keep business alive. Now is a great time to eat local by ordering take-out food, purchasing gift cards, and leaving generous tips. With lay-offs, reduced hours, and declined sales, restaurants desperately need community support. Take a night off from the kitchen and do your part to support local restaurants.

3. Make a List Before Going Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping can be overwhelming, especially when you go in without planning out your haul. Making a list before you go helps to save time and decrease the likelihood of forgetting an item. Making a list can help save money by having you prioritize your spending on what you need at the moment. Food, especially fresh produce, does not last long. Writing everything you need before you go can limit your food waste because you’ll have an idea of what and how many food items to buy. Implement this simple practice before you take your trip to the grocery store to be the most effective with your time at the market.

cereal, Aloe vera, herb, Trader Joe's, shopping basket, Market, Grocery
Caroline Ingalls

4. Drink More Water

Water is essential to one’s health. According to Healthline, water helps maximize physical performance, impacts energy levels, and brain functions, and flushes body waste. Your body depends on water to survive; every cell, organ, and tissue in your body needs water to function properly. Even mild dehydration can affect you mentally and physically. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. While there is no universally-agreed number for daily water consumption, drinking enough water is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. If you’re struggling to drink enough water each day, try: 

- carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go and refill it throughout the day

- adding lemon, lime, or cucumber to your water to make it more palatable

-spreading out your water consumption throughout the day

-drinking water with every meal

lemon, water, lemonade
Caroline Liu

5. Try New Foods

Do you find yourself eating the same meal over and over again? Eating should be fun and innovative. Whether dining at restaurants or cooking in the kitchen, there is too much food diversity to fall into the pattern of eating the same foods. Countless research suggests that variation is important in your regular diet. Trying new, healthy foods can expand your nutritional variety and discover flavors you never knew you loved. Challenge yourself to try one new food or meal a week- this will encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone and expand your palette.

6. Eat More Veggies

Numerous studies have shown that college students do not eat enough veggies in their diet. Vegetables are abundant in nutrients and are vital for the health and maintenance of your body. Eating more veggies can reduce the risk for chronic diseases and fuel your body with the nutrients to make you feel your best throughout the day. Looking for easy ways to get your veggie fix that isn’t in a boring salad? Check out my article on how to sneak veggies into your diet in ways that will leave your taste buds satisfied.

7. Meal Prep

With the constant hustle and bustle of a college student’s life, the thought of cooking all of your food can sometimes feel like an impossible task. Rather than turning to takeout and frozen foods night after night, take the time at the beginning of the week to plan, prepare, and make your meals in advance. Meal prepping helps you save time and money, eat healthier, and create less food waste. While it takes time and planning at the beginning of the week, you will be thanking yourself during your busy week to have already solved the nightly “what's for dinner?” question.

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8. Use Food as a Way to Connect With Friends & Family

Food is so much more than fuel! Food can foster a connection between people and create community. Whether going out to restaurants or staying in, meals can be a social activity that brings people together. Amid a worldwide pandemic, eating with friends and family virtually over Zoom or FaceTime can still create that community feel. Eating with others is a valuable way to spend time together, strengthen community bonds, and build important friendships. When you have people over, you could be more likely to expand your meal horizons, experiment with new recipes and ingredients, and get excited about the food that you’re eating. 

As we leave 2020 in the past and focus on the upcoming year, it is time to make achievable, healthy resolutions. Implementing these simple practices can help leave you feeling more energized, efficient, and organized. Write these resolutions down in a place that you will see frequently to constantly remind yourself and hold yourself accountable to these goals. Don’t waste any more time! Start the new year off strong to make 2021 the best yet.