Story by Sarah Jane Gourlay
In the aftermath of the New Year with resolutions rife and possibly already redundant I think we should be taking a look at the opportunities presented when considering New Year food resolutions rather than viewing them with the usual disbelief. The guilt of December indulgence weighs on our minds in January so to many it feels only natural to punish ourselves with diets and cutting out those things we love yet knowing that by spring these gestures will be forgotten. Whether you are frantically making them or quietly ignoring them, food resolutions needn’t be unobtainable goals.
One of the main problems with trying to maintain food resolutions is their suggestion that you should be changing your habits for the next 365 days or more, which for most of us is far too much to stomach in one go. A staggered approach is much more effective, making food resolutions that are exciting and build upon your culinary CV. Weekly and monthly resolutions can allow you to have more positive results rather than the usual don’t do this, don’t eat that and never have fun with food again! For instance, why not try more root vegetables, roasts and grilling your fish, meat and veg. If you usually cook solo why not consider sharing the experience or even rotate who makes the meals in your household. It is an opportunity to try something new and improve your diet.
If weight-loss is your goal, then keep an eye on your portion sizes, eat slowly and think less of changing your whole diet but instead of modifying it. A simple thing like eating more vegetables doesn’t have to be boring or a depressing idea, think of fluffy baked potatoes, crunchy mange tout and fresh broad beans. They are so wonderfully colourful and delicious; they will brighten up any plate and improve your diet. Metabolism boosting chilli and keeps-you-going-for-longer beans, oats and fruit are other ways you can modify your diet and minimise snacking. Knowing your own body and how to interpret the Guideline Daily Amounts (http://www.gdalabel.org.uk/gda/home.aspx) on food packaging relative to you is also really important since they are just guidelines. Introducing different healthy foods in to your daily life, changing your cooking habits and understanding how much you should be eating can give you a better chance at losing weight, but remember to take small steps, weekly or monthly changes are more obtainable!
If you are more interested in food resolutions that diversify your cooking, make you a better cook or you want to save money without effecting your meal options there are many things you can try. You could find a local cookery school and take a class or course to learn new skills and recipes. Talking more about food amongst friends, family and colleagues can give you great ideas for new recipes and different ways of cooking. You also could think about buying produce from local suppliers, this is a great way of supporting local businesses but also means that you are eating what is in-season and learning about cuts of meat you may not have previously considered. If you are trying to save money you could experiment with ordering your supermarket shop online, this can allow you to track your overall spend more easily and most supermarkets will deliver until 10pm. You can also look out for grocery coupons, swap to cheaper products of the same quality and if you prefer to shop in-store go on to their website first to create and print a shopping list within your budget.
Making New Year food resolutions that are tailored to you will allow you to begin to change your cooking habits and improve your diet. They should be exciting, and more importantly, achievable. I am trying to watch my portion sizes and cooking with other people to share recipes and broaden my culinary repertoire. Regularly cleaning my fridge out and updating some of my kitchen tools is also on the list that I shall build on throughout the year. Let us know if any of you have made any food resolutions or are still thinking of different ways in which you can update your diet. Good luck and remember that New Year’s resolutions needn’t be short-lived or depressing.
About the author: Sarah-Jane Gourlay is currently doing work experience with the online team and writing various stories about food for JamieOliver.com.