Now that the fat-and-sugar cravings of the holidays have set in, you may want to reboot your eating habits as a way to re-energize yourself in the new year.
Experts advise tuning into how food is going to make you feel when you eat it, rather than simply trying to lose weight.
"It's really important to figure out why you want to be healthier," said wellness coach Annette Shafer of Live Well Napa Valley. "Put a vision statement together: 'So what if I eat healthier, what is that going to do for me?'"
One of the big benefits, Shafer said, is that nutritious foods can provide more consistent energy throughout the day.
"A lot of people have that dip in the afternoon," she said. "It has to do with eating a good breakfast and having your snacks for the day, and then you're not going to be starving by dinner."
But don't expect your habits, or your palate, to change overnight.
"You take baby steps at the beginning of the year," she said. "And pretty soon, you'll find yourself on a whole different path."
Nutrition coach Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg suggests giving yourself the entire year to make the shift, whether it's cutting out processed foods or losing 5 pounds.
"It does take time, and there's no silver bullet," Huber said. "Take a deep breath and say, 'All right, I'm going to give myself some time to make the change.'"
Huber hated vegetables well into her 30s. But when her health started to suffer, the former food writer started talking to experts and writing articles about how to eat right.
"It came down to eating lots of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and smartly sourced proteins," she said. "Now I know how to eat and why, and that's a really important piece as well ... that makes food an ally."
Like Shafer, Huber advises people to look at the big picture and create a holistic vision of what they want food to do for their lives.
"It's not about the 5 pounds or getting your blood pressure down," Huber said. "It's about feeling energized and calm and peaceful when cooking, and throughout the day."
At Nourish Network, Huber has developed a "Nourish Evolution" plan that helps people get through ups and downs of eating guilt and deprivation as well as the peaks and valleys of resetting their habits.
Both coaches urge clients not to go cold turkey on the things they absolutely love to eat.
"It takes about six weeks to get your palate retrained," Huber said. "Then you notice that the carrot is really sweet ... and you notice all these things that you don't when your palate is bombarded with fat and sugar."
Shafer suggests clients incorporate the things they love, but in a balanced way.
"If you love that cookie, eat it, but don't eat 10 of them," she said. "Then the next day, have a salad. Everything is 80-20. Eighty percent of the time, you do the right thing, and 20 percent, take a little break and don't feel guilty about it."
To help yourself stay on track, Shafer suggests setting up all your menus a week ahead, then going shopping.
For breakfast and snacks, she advises eating some carbohydrates to fuel your body and a little bit of protein to keep you going. "I like to have an omelette, or cereal with quinoa and steel-cut oats with some dried blueberries," she said. "Snacking is the same. If you're going to have dried cherries, add some almonds."
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