We’re coming towards the end of January already. How are those New Year’s resolutions working out for you? Listen, we fully grasp the concept of eating better for many reasons. As chefs, we are surrounded by food all day (which sometimes sounds better than it is), and when cooking for clients and at private dinner parties, we are constantly tasting food. We spend our days cooking for other people so it’s imperative that we make healthy, homemade meals for ourselves too. But it’s not always easy. Trying to maintain balance is really what it’s all about, and fad diets, or quick crash course restrictions has never done us well. The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all way of eating, and we truly enjoy it all. We don’t believe in eliminating anything from our stomachs, except of course, for processed foods. Not to be too preachy, but by eliminating processed foods entirely, you are way ahead of the game. Here are some more suggestions to keep your outlook in check when trying to eat better in the new year.

  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint – Try to think long-term. Making a few small changes along the way will make it feel more natural and less forced. Try to set goals for the number of fruits and vegetables you’d like to eat in a week, and plan ahead. There are no charts and certainly no rules. Set realistic goals and stick to them.
  • Eat less meat – This one isn’t always easy. We try to eat vegetables most of the time, but when we do eat meat, we try to not make it the star of the plate. Meat on the side is a nice way to look at it, and load up the rest of your plate with the healthier stuff.
  • Make at least one meal a day – Europeans are on to something. They sit, talk with each other. and unplug. Meals, especially dinner, are more of an event with friends and family. Put on some music, eat slowly, and just enjoy the experience. It’s a great time to not only reflect on the day, but to also really appreciate the meal and food you have prepared.
  • Make more homemade meals – Sure, it’s easier for us since we are both chefs, but anyone and everyone should be able to cook a meal from scratch, or at least get it sourced from a reputable purveyor. It doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t and shouldn’t take all day to prepare, but there is no excuse nowadays to not make even the simplest of meals yourself.
  • Plan ahead – This one is huge. Rather than blindly shopping at the store or coming home not knowing what you are going to eat, spend a few minutes once a week planning out your meals. Create a shopping list and go from there. It’s also a great way to see how much variety you are getting and make adjustments as needed. If the store doesn’t have something you were planning on, relax, most things are interchangeable. No kale? Try mustard greens. Out of chicken? Get turkey. Can’t find chickpeas? Use white beans instead.
  • Try not to stress – This is most important. Nobody is perfect when it comes to eating. Want a chocolate chip cookie for dessert? Go for it! Have that extra slice of pizza if you want, just don’t beat yourself up over it and try not to feel guilty. It’ll only make things worse in the long run. Try not to look at things as “cheating” and simply look at each day as an opportunity to do the best you can. Don’t use the word diet, and not get deterred if you aren’t perfect all the time. Just don’t forget to eat your vegetables.  

Katie and Richard Chudy are professionally trained chefs who own the personal chef and catering company, The Skinny Beet.  They are also both food writers and each just came out with their first cookbooks, Superfood Sandwiches and American Burger Revival, respectively.