Happy New Year! Anyone already broken their New Year’s resolutions yet? Probably.
In general, I really can’t get behind the whole concept of resolutions. For one, it means I have to suffer through a crowded gym for the first few weeks of the year. And secondly, I have to suffer through endless comments - both online and in real life - from those who have already failed or are about to fail at the resolution they set mere days ago. And to me, that seems like a lot of suffering and failure for the beginning of the year.
Fortunately in Aspen, when it comes to food resolutions, there aren’t too many individuals obsessed with losing weight in the New Year. Between our lack of access to truly awful foods (my eye is on you McRib) and the bounty of activities that make exercising truly fun, we’ve rightfully earned our spot as one of the healthiest places to live in the country, if not the world.
But that doesn’t mean we’ve done everything right. Here’s my list of actually achievable New Year food goals. None of them say cut your salt intake or stop drinking soda (which you should), and a couple are downright fun!
Make it Meatless
This one has come up before in my column. To say nothing of the environmental impact of getting that ribeye onto your plate, meat just isn’t a necessary part of your diet. But meat and potatoes is as American as, well, meat and potatoes. And thinking that you’ll be able to instantly turn off your desire for meat is unrealistic.
Instead, opt for Meatless Mondays (or Tuesdays or Wednesdays, for that matter), choosing one day a week to eat beans, soy, quinoa and other vegetables like Brussels sprouts that contain low-calorie, easy-to-digest proteins. You’ll cut nearly 15 percent of your meat intake over the course of the year, and your body and the environment will feel better in the process.
Be a Qualitarian
O.K., so I’ll admit that this is kind of a made up word. But the idea behind it is simple: When given an option, choose the one that’s better for your body. Want chicken tonight? Choose baked over fried. Making a salad? Choose spinach or kale over iceberg. Going to the movies? Get your popcorn without layers of butter-flavored topping. Eating perfectly is unrealistic. And with food, aiming too high might actually leave you worse off than you started.
You’ll likely fail and end up binging on the bad things you were trying to eliminate in the first place.
Host More Dinner Parties
Whether it’s two people or 10 people, hosting a dinner party gets you thinking more about food, talking more about food, and trying new recipes.
And when cooking for someone other than just yourself, it forces you to focus on quality, taste, and presentation. And the wine and great conversation doesn’t hurt either.
Try New Foods
Without putting a time frame on this one (like try something new every week or month), pick those food items you’ve been wary of and give them another shot. For me, it’s olives, ketchup and oysters. Or actually find that food processor you were given for Christmas two years ago and make your own sauces and hummus. Or try new food preparations, like poaching or cooking in a crock pot. Or take a cooking class.
Pack a Lunch
Actually packing a lunch for yourself serves multiple purposes: It not only saves you money, it also ensures that you don’t make poor last-minute decisions based on convenience. And you’re much more conscious of making good culinary choices at the beginning of the day before the stress of work and life get in the way. So even if it’s not every day, pick two or three days a week to pack your own lunch. If your mom could do it, so can you.