Zarah Column Mug

Zarah Parker

It was Christmas Eve and all I wanted was to eat Whataburger. Much to my dismay, it was closed.

But as soon as the holiday ended and restaurants reopened, where was I? Whataburger.

As I was chomping down on my large fries I realized that I craved Whataburger way too much. As with any new year, it’s a clean slate, and a time for change. I decided I wanted to change my eating habits to be less about fast food and more about home-cooked meals — more specifically, healthier meals.

And one day into the new year, I was already eating Whataburger. I had made the decision, but I needed a plan. And actually planning how I would change those habits made the biggest difference. At least, so far.

Some of the bad eating habits I struggle with, and many others as well, are drinking too many calories with sweet tea, sodas or even juices, relying on the convenience of fast food, not actually knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods (just because the label says “low fat” doesn’t mean it’s good for you), not using portion control and eating foods that have tons of sugar or are high in fat.

How to change any of these habits takes practice, because when you’re used to eating one way, it’s easy to just keep eating that way. If you’re like me, it might be best to tackle one habit at a time.

I’m taking baby steps and going month by month. Here’s what I’ll do in January. Next month I’ll reassess and decide what needs to be modified.

Most nutrition websites I found recommended eating breakfast, a healthy mid-morning snack, lunch, a healthy mid-afternoon snack, dinner and an optional light snack before bed.

So, I’ll actually eat breakfast. This is a hard one for me. I’m rarely hungry in the morning and even though I’ve been told a million times that it’s the most important meal of the day, I didn’t care. I’ve noticed that because I don’t eat in the morning, after I eat lunch, I tend to continue wanting to snack and snack … and snack.

When I do eat out, I won’t eat the whole portion, but take some of it to go. Because if you haven’t noticed by now, nine out of 10 restaurants serve huge portion sizes and it’s easy to eat more than I should.

One of the hardest for me will be swapping out my beloved whole milk for almond milk. While I could just switch it for 2 percent, I’m not a fan of it. It’s too watery to me, whereas almond milk is just a whole different kind of milk.

Instead of frying food, I’ll grill or bake it. I love fried food, but it’s so unhealthy, and it breaks out my skin. And goodbye sweet tea, hello unsweet and water. I already don’t drink a lot of soda, so I’m not worried about that one.

If you have plans to change eating habits, trust yourself and most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to your plan all the time. Just take it day by day.

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