7 simple diet changes to create healthy habits - gracie carroll

As much as I wanted to stay away from writing about a “January Detox” (I know there are one million other websites where you can read about one), I couldn’t help but feel as though sharing my own health and ‘diet’ goals for the new year with all of you would help keep me accountable and truly commited.

I’ve tried my fair share of different diets over the years – paleo, vegan, no drinking, no sugar, no gluten, etc. – and it’s always been X amount of days of agony until it was finally over and I could go back to my usual habits involving healthy eating mixed with a good amount of pizza and wine.

As the new year came around, my body and mind were screaming for a reset. Like many of you, I used January as an opportunity to start fresh, but, this year I knew I needed to do it differently. This year, it couldn’t be about 14-days or 30-days of not eating or drinking X, I knew that this year needed to be about creating habits that I could sustain for an entire year, and beyond.

2017 is the year I turn 30, and what’s important to me is entering a new decade feeling healthy, strong and happy with myself on the inside and out. I took time to reflect on what’s worked for me, what I’ve liked, and what I could easily put into place without hating my life. I came up with 7 simple diet changes to create a healthy routine in 2017, here’s what they are:

1. Drink a large glass of lemon water first thing

lemon water detox

You’ve likely heard about the beauty and health benefits of drinking lemon water already (if you haven’t, check out my friend Joy McCarthy‘s blog post HERE for a great breakdown) and it’s something I have done only every time I’ve been on a diet or cleanse. My problem is that it’s often recommended to drink the water warm and I’ve never had the patience to wait around for my kettle to boil before reaching for a coffee first. That means, as soon as the cleanse was over, so was drinking warm lemon water. Since this year I’ve decided to simplify and make adjustments to suit my lifestyle, I’ve said to myself, “Hey, it’s OK to drink not-so-warm lemon water, just drink lemon water any way you can.” For me, this means adding lemon juice to a glass of room temperature water that was on my nightstand overnight when I get up in the morning, or simply squeezing fresh lemon juice into a fresh glass of water.

2.Take a probiotic, multi vitamin and fish oil

graciecarroll_dailyvitamins_healthyroutine

Shopping for vitamins can be extremely overwhelming to me. I mean, as soon as you walk into any health food store you’re faced with floor-to-ceiling shelving that’s stocked with every kind of healthy pill imaginable. I’m so grateful that my trainer and nutritionist, Jessica Morris Health, helped break down exactly what I should be taking every day when she helped me through my 30-day #GCfit plan a couple of years ago. I’ll admit that I was a bit of a slacker in 2016 and regularly forgot to take any of my vitamins. That changes in 2017! While drinking that tasty lemon water, I now ensure I take my One Daily Multi-Vitamin for women from New Chapter, a NutraSea fish oil capsule and a probiotic. My brands of choice are shown above!

3. Drink a cup of green tea

drink-green-tea

Up until I decided to make some simple changes, I would regularly drink a good 5 cups of coffee a day. It was never enough, and I always felt tired. I knew drinking that much coffee wasn’t good for me, and I wanted to know I could function without it. This year I’ve decided to ditch the coffee, and start my day with a lovely cup of green tea instead. So far, I’ve been more than satisfied with one cup of caffeinated tea per day, and have enjoyed herbal teas later on. Plus, there are tons of amazing benefits from green tea! Read this article by David Wolf to find out more.

4. Make a green smoothie for breakfast

green-smoothie

Although the healthy routines I’m listing here have been a part of my life at one point or another, I’m happy to report that drinking my beloved green smoothie has been a solid part of my daily routine for many years now. Thinking about how much I love drinking a vibrant green veggie-filled smoothie every day is actually what made me start thinking about what else I could turn into healthy habits and create a full routine. At this point, making a green smoothie is such a part of my routine and habits that my body truly craves it when I don’t have one. As you can imagine, I will be continuing to make green smoothies for breakfast (and before I go to the gym) every day! If you’re new to the green smoothie game, try my Glowing Green Smoothie recipe HERE.

5. Eat a vegetarian lunch

oaxaca-bowl

A few of years ago, I read in one or two of my many nutrition-focused books that it was recommended to reduce your amount of meat intake to only one meal a day. If I recall correctly, I think it was Kimberly Snyder who wrote that if you were going to eat meat, do so for dinner since it often makes you tired and your body would have time to rest afterwards. I quickly adopted this idea and for about a year I only packed or bought veggie-filled vegetarian lunches, and I loved it! That was in between when I was on the Paleo diet (which I felt was just WAY too much meat all the time), and when my trainer, Jess (mentioned above), instructed me to only eat lean protein and salad for lunch and dinner if I wanted to get lean, fast. Over the past year I let go of any sort of structure I had to my diet, and I’ve decided that I wanted to return to veggie lunches and protein dinners, because I really felt that worked for me. As much as I love meat, I don’t think it’s a good idea to eat a lot of it, and this helps ensure that my daily diet contains tons of yummy fresh vegetables. Since I normally workout at lunch time and I’m always hungry afterwards, I like to make or buy veggie bowls with a bit of protein in the form of chickpeas or ancient super grains like quinoa to help me feel full.

6. Have healthy, homemade snacks on hand

energy-balls

As Amelia Freer says in her second book, Cook. Nourish. Glow., “if (you) leave the house without food, it’s a dangerous world out there” and I couldn’t agree more! When you are eating clean, especially when you are starting out, you often get hungry in between meals and this is when it’s easiest to stray. Not only can it be difficult to find a real nourishing snack that you can pick up when you’re on the go, but there’s far too much temptation around that’s extra hard to ignore when you’re hangry. Personally I love making a batch of no-bake energy balls (my fave recipes coming soon!) to have in the fridge at home that I can easily pop in a little container or bag to throw in my purse. These energy balls are often a bit sweet too so they’re really great for a mid-day treat or little dessert. If you don’t have time to make anything, consider packing an apple or some almonds – these are also great options to look out for when you find yourself out in the world without packed snacks.

7. Eat a healthy protein dinner with veggies

lamb-carrot-meatballs-hemsley

A big part of thinking about the changes I could make that would be sustainable for my lifestyle was coming up with what would work at home for me, and my boyfriend Josh. Steps 1 to 3 are easy because I get up earlier than he does, and he can make his own coffee well after I’ve had my cup of green tea. I managed to get him hooked on green smoothies when I did (seriously, he loves them!) so now I make enough for both of us every day. Normally I spend most of my days running around the city, so my lunch choices don’t really affect him in any way. What I do know is that Josh isn’t too keen on vegetarian dinners (especially every day), and it would be a struggle even for me to get on board with veggie meals all day long. Saving a savoury meal with yummy organic meat or fish for the end of the day gives me something to look forward to that we can enjoy together – I hate the idea of eating two separate meals! Although from change 5 you’ll know that I haven’t gone back to Paleo, but I want to maintain focus on creating delicious meals that involve meat or fish with lots of veggies.

 

Now, so far I’m on Day 6 of this new routine and, to be honest, I feel AMAZING. I’ve also cut out drinking any alcohol (for the month) and I have to say that in just a few days my skin looks and feels so much better, I feel brighter, and my body feels extremely happy. It sounds cheesy but it’s as though I can actually feel the nutrients nourishing my body. Is it possible to feel your hair growing and your skin rejuvenating? I’ve also noticed that I’ve been consuming way more water than I normally do and that has made me feel great too. Oh, did I mention I’ve already lost 5 pounds?

But let’s be honest here, 6 days is certainly a helluva lot easier than 365 days, and I know this. There will be cheat meals here and there to keep me sane, and that’s OK. Even my trainer Jess would remind me to have a cheat meal once a week when I was in serious training mode and she always said to “make it a GOOD one”. The difference this year is that I’m focused on making these a habit. According to the internet, it’s a solid 66 days so here’s to hoping that by then I’ll be on my way to carry on for the rest of the year.

I hope some of these changes might help you with your own reset this year, or inspire new healthy habits! Remember, it’s all about baby steps and trying to find something that’s sustainable for you. Do you have any clean eating and clean living tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them!

xo

@GracieCarroll

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