3 Simple Tips to Start Eating Healthy Again

It can be hard transitioning from holiday eating back into eating healthy again in January. That’s because after the holidays you may not have a lot of things going on to look forward to besides eating. You may not have as many parties in January. You may have just gone on vacation in December, so you don’t have any vacations to look forward to. And it’s cold outside (at least it’s cold here in NYC!) so you may not want to go out as much, and then you end up hibernating and eating.

You have time to get bored and eat a lot of junk food or order delivery comfort food like pizza or macaroni & cheese. All of this makes it harder to get back into the habit of eating healthy, so here are 3 tips to help you get back into the habit.

Tip #1 Stop Eating When You Stop Feeling Hungry

Stop eating when you stop feeling hungry, which is not the same thing as when you feel full. If you’re eating until you feel full, you’re probably overeating.

You may have gotten out of the habit of doing this during the holidays or on vacation because there were a lot of new foods or lot of treats to try. And you probably wanted to try everything, and then you ended up overeating, and then you got used to overeating. To get back into the habit of eating healthy remember to stop eating when you stop feeling hungry.

Tip #2 Plan Things to Look Forward to Besides Eating

In January it’s cold outside, so you may not go out as much because you don’t want to be in the cold weather and snow. I know I don’t! So plan other things to do inside, so that in the moment you don’t get bored and end up eating instead. Some ideas for what you could plan instead — find a new board game to get into (this one is fun), binge-watch a show on Netflix, or Marie Kondo organize your house.

Try to plan even the food that you’re going to order for delivery because you may think you’re going to go grocery shopping and get something healthy, but then you end up ordering delivery because it’s too cold outside or snowing. If you plan it in advance, then you can plan to make healthier food delivery choices.

Tip #3 The 7-Day Transition

It’s easy to think that you’re going to go from eating unhealthy the whole month of December and suddenly January 1st you’re going to start eating healthy again. But in reality, it’s hard to make that change dramatically from December 31st to January 1st.

Instead, try a 7-day transition. That can make it easier to start eating healthy again. For example:

  1. Day 1 & 2- Monday & Tuesday: You eat a healthy breakfast and an unhealthy lunch, dinner, and snacks.
  2. Day 3 & 4 — Wednesday & Thursday: You eat a healthy breakfast and lunch and an unhealthy dinner and snacks.
  3. Days 5 & 6 — Friday & Saturday: You eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner and unhealthy snacks.
  4. Day 7 — Sunday: You transition to a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snacks.

The Ideal Healthy Meal

A healthy meal is ideally a meal that is 50% fruits and/or vegetables, 25% healthy proteins, and 25% healthy whole grain carbs. I usually recommend 1 cheat day or 3 cheat meals a week as well, but you can skip it the week you’re trying to get back into the habit of eating healthy.

Transitioning back to eating healthy over a week makes it easier (and less depressing). This also means you have to plan when you’re going out to eat. Try to go to places that actually have fruit & vegetables sides and appetizers, so that you could realistically eat 50% of your meal in fruits & vegetables.

Also, try to avoid your friends who guilt trip or peer pressure you into eating unhealthy in January and February. It’s essential that you get back into the habit of eating healthy as soon as possible at the beginning of the year. Then once you get back into the habit of eating healthy, you can hang out with them for the rest of the year.

P.S. Here’s my post on 8 Simple Steps to Make You a Priority This Year.

Originally published on If We Were Family.

I’m a cardiologist, consulting and providing advisory services in health tech.