new year's resolutions

Now that’s a whole 30 challenge I can get behind!

I think we’re finally seeing a shift in the landscape about health and new year’s resolutions. There are far fewer articles in my various social media newsfeeds about dire diets and impossible plans. Instead, I’m seeing some reflective reporting on evidence based plans for how to make your life better, if that’s what you’re after this January. Now maybe that’s just better news algorithms but whatever, I’ll take it.

For example, the BBC this week ran a great list of health tips that weren’t about restricting foods, running unhappily on a treadmill, and weighing yourself. Instead, they made recommendations like smile more, get enough sleep, and get a dog. I can’t find the link for you! (Sorry about that. It’s been a busy week back to work.) (Edit/update: It’s here. Thanks Keri for helping out!) My favourite though was a 30 food challenge. Not the dreaded Whole 30 challenge which restricts foods, this challenge is to eat 30 different plant based foods in a week:

According to Megan Rossi, “We should aim for at least 30 different plant-based foods per week, she says. That is because plant-based diversity is thought to have a key role in good gut health. The bacteria in our gut – collectively known as the microbiome – have a profound role in our health. Allergies, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson’s, and even depression have all been linked to the bacteria in our gut. One way we can get more plant-based diversity in our diets easily is by being a little savvier about some of the foods we purchase, says Dr Rossi. “Instead of just buying chickpeas go for the four-bean mix. Instead of buying one type of seed buy the four-seed mix,” she says.”

Lots of different vegetables: Image from Getty.

Now Matt Fitzgerald wonders if we ought to strive to eat different foods everyday. In his Is Dietary Variety Overrated? he looks at the advantages of eating the same healthy foods everyday. And there are some advantages. Planning and meal prep is easier and you can choose healthy meals you like and stick with them. That said, when it comes to fruits and vegetables there are nutritional reasons for striving for variety.

He writes, ” For example, in one study researchers from the University of Colorado divided 106 women into two groups and placed them on different diets. Both groups consumed 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but one group ate 18 different varieties of fruits and vegetables while the other ate only five varieties. Blood tests taken after two weeks revealed that while both groups showed a reduction in lipid peroxidation (due to increased antioxidant intake), only the wide-variety group exhibited a reduction of DNA damage caused by free radicals.”

Do you eat 30 different plant based foods in a week? Looking at my food log (yes, I track, I like it, still!) I’ve got a ways to go. So far I’ve had apples, onions, celery, mushrooms, spinach, and broccoli.

How about you? How many different plant based foods do you eat in a week?

habits · new year's resolutions

To resolve or not to resolve? You decide

EMM, not Emma.

We share a lot of Emm’s positive art on our Facebook page and you can support her on Patreon .

[Drawing of a cactus saying “It’s okay if you don’t want to make a New Year’s resolution.”]

But if you decide “yes” and go ahead and make resolutions, there’s lots of good advice about making them stick. Lots of it is even the kind of advice we like to give around here. Here’s 5 things that I find make a difference.

1.Start small. If you’re not going to to the gym at all, don’t resolve to go everyday. That’s likely too much. Pick something more manageable, like 3 or 4 times a week. See Best advice ever (in Tracy’s world): start small.

2. Pick things you can control (habits, not outcomes). My fave app for habit tracking is called 7 Weeks (thanks TT!) but there are lots of good ones out there. Here’s a list of 24 best habit tracking apps.

3. Don’t overwhelm yourself. As tempting as it is to think “whole new me!” it’s probably best not to set out to learn to meditate, improve your French, quit smoking, make your bed everyday, pack your own lunch, read a novel a week etc etc all in one year.

4. Don’t aim for perfection. It’s not all over if you miss a day, or even a week. People like all or nothing thinking and tend to say “well, that’s over.” But you can keep on going.

5. Reach out! Lots of us like some kind of accountability. Find other people who share your goal and check in with them.

Also I think it’s worth reading Gretchen Rubin’s piece on resolutions, those of us who hate them, and how to do better by lightening up. I also like this article on resolutions recommended by therapists.