You're probably seeing a bazillion of these types of articles popping up in your e-reader, am I right? It's a New Year! Start a new beginning! Make resolutions! While resolutions and goals can be helpful (especially since we are not likely to get where we want to be without a plan), I'm not here to throw a guilt trip at you or tell you more things you "ought to do." Nope. We are all in differing seasons of life and in differing circumstances. Some of you may need to change your diet drastically, others might just need to tweak it, and still others may need to just leave well enough alone and focus on other areas of life.
But, if you are wanting to make changes to the way you eat, can I encourage you to just begin with one small goal? Yep, just ONE. One small goal that can become a new habit for you. A way of life.
If you're thinking, But wait! I've got more than one change to make! then write down all the ways you want to change your eating habits, and then review them. Circle ONE. Go for the one goal that seems most important to you, the one with the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak.
Try to avoid making your goals too general like:
Eat more vegetables.
Bake everything from scatch.
Eat out less.
How are you going to reasonably tackle one of those? What does "eat healthier" or "eat out less" even mean? You're likely setting yourself up for discouragement and failure right from the start.
Instead, can I suggest you make yourself a very simple, realistic, clear goal? Something you can actually tackle. Something that can become a new habit for you. Something with reasonable detail and specificity, such as:
Plan meals each Saturday for the upcoming week.
Include at least 2 vegetables for dinner each night.
Find a source for local, grass-fed dairy and start buying their milk.
Start baking one loaf of homemade bread once a week.
Buy a sourdough cuture and begin trying new sourdough recipes, one per week.
Instead of eating out for lunch, start packing dinner leftovers for lunch.
Make a shopping list and refrain from buying items not on it to help me keep to my budget.
One small goal that actually becomes a reality this year is worth far more than one large, ambitious goal that remains unconquered.
PS: Keep in mind that you're setting a "goal" not perfection. A goal is something to shoot for and hopefully attain after a certain amount of time. We will all falter and sometimes fail, but it's not about perfection, it's about moving in the right direction. Even if you don't include those 2 vegetables for dinner every night, but you do many nights, then go you! You are eating a lot more veggies than you did last year! You are headed in a good direction.
* If you really think a thorough overhaul of your diet is in order, perhaps monthly goals might be a more feasible option for you than New Year's goals. I've written a fair amount about tackling a major diet overhaul piece by piece (see March, April, May of 2011, and also "tips for creating a healthy diet"). Hopefully you will find some practical and useful ideas for you as you endeavor to make changes this year.