1. Eat real food. You already know this: too much deprivation leads to craving exactly the foods you’re avoiding. So for the new year, resolve that instead of eating a lot of diet foods or fat-free foods, have portion-controlled real food. Personally, I do not drink “diet” beverages or foods, and in the show, I usually avoid low-cal substitutions in recipes.
2. Have a weeknight repertoire. Resolve to simplify your weeknight cooking. I got the idea for Deb’s Kitchen after surveying 1000 Facebook friends and found that a whopping 78% of people make dinner using a mix of fresh and packaged ingredients– and there is a real dearth of advice out there on how to make healthy semi-from-scratch meals. Busy people need a “catalogue” of dishes that can be prepared easily with the chaos of the average weekday. I’m all about frozen meals in moderation– Trader Joe’s and Amy’s Organic are some of my faves– that you can jazz up with a handful of fresh ingredients. Weekends are when you experiment with new recipes, that hopefully make it into your “catalogue” over time!
3. Add some color whenever possible. Here’s a simple New Year’s resolution: add more color! Color usually means veggies or fruits, so whenever you have an opportunity to liven up the plate with more and different color options, it’s a good bet your meal will be healthier and more fun. 80% of the time, I do prepare a green salad or some type of veggie with lunch and dinner. But even on days I don’t, I try to add a splash of fresh. Maybe it’s, say, throwing 1/4 cup of fresh chopped basil into a store-bought vodka sauce. It’s not much, but I think it makes the sauce so much more delightful and maybe a tad bit healthier.
4. Make “space” for dinner. At the beginning of the new year almost everyone is focused on fitness– but don’t lose sight of the enjoyment of food! In most families (and single people too), dinner is the main quality time to enjoy, connect and relax for the day. So, make dinner the space where you get creative and indulgent with your meal, but be habitual about breakfast and dinner nutrition/calorie wise. Did you know, by the way, that research shows people who have less variety in their diet maintain their weight better over time?
5. Create a daily or weekly ritual around meal. Keep it simple! Maybe it’s experimenting with a new recipe on the weekends, or trying one new vegetable each week. Maybe it’s having a special Sunday dinner. Maybe it’s a glass of wine with dinner! For me, my husband and I eat after we put the babies to bed and after we’ve done all the bottles, lunches, dishes for the next day, even if it’s late. That’s our ritual to make dinner the special part of the day we really look forward to.
To learn more about Debra and receive more of her helpful kitchen tips, follow her on Twitter (@debrashigley) and visit www.indebskitchen.com. Stay tuned for the launch of Debra’s web series, “Deb’s Kitchen” on January 10th!