Don’t let prep time in the kitchen hold you back from achieving your New Year’s resolution

Everyone loves an opportunity for a fresh start.  It is so popular that we annually pledge to do something differently next year.  We select our “resolutions” based on making next year better.  No other time of year than January facilitates the notion of starting over.  Unfortunately, the statistics suggest that most resolutions do not last.  Often the goals are unrealistic, it becomes too much work, or we lose interest when results don’t come easily or quickly. A new diet is one of the most common New Years resolutions, and it requires some culinary skill to pull off.  If a new diet is your goal, food preparation may be one of the reasons your plans get derailed.

Here’s why it’s common to have occasional dieting setbacks:

For example, you need plan for enough menu variety for six meals daily to stay interested over time while controlling food costs.  The meals need to be prepared with the right ingredients using healthy cooking techniques.  Entrees need to be low in saturated fat, sodium, portion appropriate and glycemically balanced, while using lean sources of protein, complete whole grains and your required daily vegetables.  It needs to taste delicious without using fats, salt, refined flours and sugars.  It takes 20 minutes to go the store, 30 minutes to shop, 45 minutes to prep ingredients, and 1-2 hours for cooking and serving.  That is over three hours, with another 179 entrees left to consider in the first month alone.

Sound overwhelming?  It doesn’t have to be.  Setting yourself up for success will help you increase your odds of a staying on a successful path. Utilize these helpful tips to assist with making big lifestyle changes.  Sticking to your goals will deliver you the healthy results that will make your efforts worthwhile.

1. Food preparation is overwhelming when time is limited or the concepts are new.  Enroll in a cooking class to learn basic knife skills to cut down on preparation time in the kitchen.   Utilizing a healthy prepared foods or a diet delivery program can reduce the amount of cooking time required and make it easier to stay on course.

2.  Find a cooking partner.  Cooking for more than one makes it more economical and efficient in the kitchen-not to mention fun!

3. Prepare as many meals in advance as you can when you cook.   Creating a grab and go store in your fridge provides convenient options that are ready when ever you need them. It will also prevent the likelihood of making an unhealthy impulse purchase when hungry.

4. Start by making small changes you can successfully achieve.  Even incremental dietary changes can make a big difference in the dieting outcomes.  Swapping just one meal a day for a healthier one can reduce your overall daily intake enough over time to result in weight loss.

5. Make a list of what’s important to you to help stay motivated. Keeping the list accessible in a strategic location will help keep you focused.  Make sure you can access it during moments of temptation.  It will realign you with your goals and help to prevent you from going off course.

6. Find the right kind of support. Pick people who will encourage you in positive ways.  Your support group can create a system of accountability, which is strong motivation for sticking to goals.

7. Add exercise! Exercise coupled with calorie restriction gives you a weight-loss advantage. Exercise helps burn off excess calories while offering endless health benefits.  Exercise is also a critical component for long-term maintenance.

The new “resolution” habits must become a permanent way of life, not just a temporary adjustment. Changes take time to practice and completely integrate, typically 21-66 days. It’s important to plan a strategy for the personal challenges you anticipate. The preventative strategies that you put in place may be the key for losing the weight for good.

Photo credit: Steve A Johnson

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