2018 NEW YEAR: SMART PLANNING
Why a Diet Should Not be Your New Year’s Resolution: How many of you have set a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or eat healthy only to fail? What happened? Did you give up before you even started because you didn’t know where to begin? Did you start (too) strong and eliminate every “bad” food you “shouldn’t” eat? You know pizza, ice cream, chocolate? Did you start a fad diet that made you feel tired, hungry and deprived? Did you quit because it was too hard only to binge on all those off limit foods and put on any (or more) weight you managed to lose? Well, I’m not surprised. You started a diet. Diets. Don’t. Work.
Do you really want to give up dessert for the rest of your life? Could you? I couldn’t.
Do you really want to stop eating pizza with your family on Friday night? I wouldn’t.
What about give up your night out with friends because there is “nothing to eat” where you are going? Heck no!
What if you made changes to your life that you can stick with forever? What if you made a goal to eat mostly nutrient dense foods (80-90% of the time), but also allowed yourself to enjoy less nutritious foods (without guilt) the rest of the time? You may find you crave those “forbidden” foods less when they are actually allowed.
So let’s talk healthy eating. A healthy eating pattern can be thought of as the average way that you eat. The healthiest patterns generally consist of mostly of plants (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains). I also like to remind people the colors of the fruits and veggies often represent different nutrients, so variety is ideal! This way of eating decreases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc. Lean meats and dairy can also be included, but need not be the star of the show. Healthy fats are also important and can be found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Remember that whole fat free era? Boy am I glad that’s over! Start by looking at your overall diet and find places with room for improvement.
Not sure where to begin?
Consider these questions:
Do you eat large portions of meat most days? (More than the size of a deck of cards at each meal?)
Do you grab the cookies and donuts in the breakroom like all the time?? Worse yet, do you eat them so fast you don’t enjoy them?
Do you rarely (if ever) include vegetarian meals in your weekly routine?
Do you typically eat refined (white) pasta instead of whole grains?
Do you rarely fill half your plate with veggies?
Do you eat the same couple veggies most of the time instead of a variety?
Are your snacks lacking (chips, pretzels, crackers)? Do you rarely choose fruits and veggies b/c they require a tiny bit of planning?
Do you fail to have a plan for most meals? Then, try and grab whatever is quick and easy (and often not the most nutrient dense?)
SMARTER GOAL SETTING
Using those questions as a starting point, identify an area you could improve, and consider making a goal. Not just any goal – a SMARTER goal!! SMARTER goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Sensitive. Then, Evaluate your goal and Reward yourself! Let’s examine what that means.
Specific is exactly what you want to accomplish - what is the goal?
Measurable is how often, how much?
Achievable is considering if your goal is something you can achieve – is it realistic?
Relevant is questioning if the goal is pertinent to your life?
Time Sensitive is when you will start working on this goal, or when you hope to achieve your goal.
Evaluate your goal. Check in with yourself after you get started. Does the goal need to be modified?
Reward yourself with something great (but not food)! This is the fun part - think bubble bath, pedicure, or a new workout shirt.
Need an example? I get it!
Take a look at a typical New Year’s Resolution compared to a SMARTER one!
Typical New Year’s Resolution:
I am going to eat healthier this year.
SMARTER New Year’s Resolution:
S: I am going to increase the amount of vegetables I eat.
M: I will eat at least 2 servings of vegetables 3 nights a week.
A: I will make this achievable with a plan! I am going to plan my dinners on Sunday evenings and have the vegetables chopped/washed for the week.
R: This is relevant b/c lately I barely eat vegetables, but I know when I do I feel better. I go to the bathroom more regularly, I’m more satisfied, and my kids end up eating more veggies too.
T: I will start this next week, and plan to do this Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night. I may even make enough so I have leftovers for lunch!
E: I am going to evaluate my progress after 3 weeks and tweak my plan if needed. If it’s going well, I am going to do this 4 nights per week
R: In 3 weeks, I am going to reward myself with a RISE sweatshirt.
See the difference? I encourage you to write down your SMARTER goals and even share them with a spouse or a friend. Remember to set goals that are sustainable and achievable.
I love a hot, cozy stew in the winter. The cashew cream in this soup give a yummy creaminess, but it’s still delicious if you want to skip it (just skip step 1). Pair this with some crusty whole grain bread and a side salad for a complete meal. Sometimes I make this on Sunday and just heat it the weeknight I’m going to enjoy it for a really easy dinner. The flavors actually get better as it sits. Freeze the rest in individual serving sizes for a quick lunch! Buy the cashews and lentils in the bulk section if they aren’t something you keep on hand.
GOLDEN LENTIL STEW
1/2 cup (125 mL) raw cashews, or 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 mL) raw sunflower seeds
2 cups (500 mL) water
2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow or sweet onion, diced, or 2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 large cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons (5 to 7 mL) fine sea salt
2 medium carrots, diced (1 heaping cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (3/4 cup)
2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) dried thyme
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground turmeric (optional but gives that golden color and adds antioxidants)
1 (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, with juices
3/4 cup uncooked French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups (750 mL) stemmed and chopped Swiss chard or kale leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 mL) white wine vinegar, to taste
Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with a couple of inches of water. Soak for 1 to 2 hours or overnight. (For a quick-soak method, cover with boiling water and soak for 30 to 60 minutes.) Drain and rinse. Transfer the cashews to a high-speed blender along with 1/2 cup of the water. Blend on high until super smooth and creamy in texture. Set the cashew cream aside. If you have a Vitamix or high powered blender – no need to soak the cashews.
In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, and a couple pinches of salt, and sauté until the onion is softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
Stir in the carrots and celery, and cook for another few minutes or so. Stir in the cumin, thyme, and turmeric until combined.
Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, lentils, broth, and remaining water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
Stir in the cashew cream and chard. Add salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste. (The vinegar’s role is to add a little bit of brightness to the soup; add a bit at a time and keep tasting, as it can quickly overwhelm.) Cook for a couple of minutes over low-medium heat, until the chard is wilted, and then serve. This stew will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or you can freeze it for 1 to 2 months (always let it cool completely before storing). The stew will thicken after sitting in the fridge; you can thin it out with a bit of broth when you reheat it, if desired, or simply serve it thick!
Adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Oh She Glows Everyday