Have you already broken your New Year’s resolutions? Don't feel bad, since most people have given up on resolutions even before February started, which is why they’re not worth setting. What is worth striving for? Nutrition related-goals that are attainable, and will lead you to eat healthier every day, especially if one of your intentions is to eat more plant-based be healthier now and in the future. Here, nutrition professionals share the goals they want you to try in order to be healthier in your day-to-day, have more energy, lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Try adding one or more of these doable, simple healthy eating goals every to be successful at reaching your healthy diet goals.

1. Stock your kitchen with convenient, nutrient-rich foods and beverages

When you get busy, healthy eating often goes out the window, especially when you need something quick. Yet by having healthy options on hand –such as pre-chopped veggies and hummus and antioxidant-packed beverages like pomegranate juice –you’ll be more likely to grab them when time is tight and your famished, says Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., a plant-based sports dietitian in Newtown, Pa. Pro tip? Place these healthier-for-your snacks lie fruit and nuts in highly visible areas so you’ll grab them first.

2. Eat five different colors of whole plant foods every day

It sounds so basic, but the colors of food represent different micronutrients in the vegetables and fruits, so simply by aiming to eat at least five colors, you’ll ensure you’re getting a wide array of nutrients as well as plenty of fiber, which you only get from plants, says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Most Americans are deficient in fruits and vegetables so if you are like 90 percent of the population, you could use a little more colorful whole foods iin your diet.

For instance, blueberries in your morning oatmeal, red tomatoes or salsa and yellow corn in your black bean burrito, carrot ginger soup (bright orange) with a side of steamed greens. Red peppers have more vitamin C than an orange, so get creative when you hit the produce aisle. To help you meet this goal, print out PCRM’s Nutrition Rainbow and post it on your fridge.

3. Make fruit your staple snack Monday through Friday

Most Americans fall short on their required fiber intake, and by making this your goal, you’re ensuring at least one fruit serving a day, says Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., C.S.S.D., plant-based performance nutritionist (and spokesperson for Opal Apples). Plus, fruit can help satisfy sweet cravings. One great snack? Apples like Opal apples, which are naturally non-browning and can be sliced ahead of time without discoloring, so you can dip them later in the day. Pair sliced apples with nut or seed butter, chocolate hummus, or plant-based yogurt if you want something sweet. Prefer a more savory snack? Dip those apples in hummus, vegan pesto, or cashew cheese.

4. Experiment with herbs, which you can even grow on your windowsill

Herbs offer so many nutritional and overall health benefits, and of course, make our food that much more interesting and tasty. “Many herbs are rich in vitamins and/or minerals and have antioxidants, antimicrobial or antibacterial properties,” says Sheri Vettel, R.D., M.P.H., a nutrition expert with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in Greensboro, NC. Plus, they can take the flavor of meals to the next level. Either grow your own or find fresh herbs at farmer's markets or the grocery store. Just make sure you have to plan to use up herbs so they don’t go to waste. One of Vettel’s tricks? Adding leftover herbs to homemade pesto or soup.

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5. Add vegetables and fruit to at least one more meal a day

You may be making pasta, or tortillas, or pizza for dinner. Toss in some spinach, or peppers, add an extra serving of mushrooms or olives, zucchini, or tomatoes. Do this, and you’ll fit in two or more extra servings of healthy fiber-filled produce, which Americans are sorely lacking in. Sass recommends picking your veg and fruit combo first and then building meals around them. Duos that work well include smoothies made with leafy greens and berries (rounded out with plant protein powder, nut butter, and ginger), entrée salad with sliced Opal apple (rounded out with citrus vinaigrette, chickpeas, quinoa, and avocado), or a veggie stir fry with orange sections (rounded out with black-eyed peas, brown rice, and nuts in a ginger sauce).

6. Create a back-up plan for when you're unable to make a healthy dish

While it’s ideal to cook meals at home, busy schedules may not allow that some days. So always have a back-up plan with a freezer full of healthy go-to items you can defrost and serve, says Sarah Marjoram, M.S., R.D.N., L.D., nutrition expert and strategies advisor for Jamba. She’s a fan of batch cooking and storing extra portions of quinoa and brown rice over the weekend to throw in bowls and salads, having frozen veggies or fruit on hand, and keeping an array of nut butter like almond butter or cashew for the quick snack when needed. Simply by taking a few hours to cut up veggies or just buy them pre-cut and store them within easy reach means staying on track with your healthy eating goals. For dinner on the fly, order vegan from your local plant-based restaurant. "The more resources you have on hand to support your healthy lifestyle, the easier it is to stay on track,” she says.

7. Snack on plant protein options like nuts, seeds and edamame

Adding a plant-based protein to your snacks can help you meet daily protein goals while increasing fullness and satisfaction, Jones says. For instance, eat a handful of nuts like pistachios or almond, walnuts or cashews, with fruit slices or berries. For a savory snack add edamame and hemp seeds to your favorite plant-based dips like hummus or guacamole.

8. Use smoothies to boost fruit and vegetable intake

Not a fan of eating fruits and veggies straight up? Get creative and make a smoothie. “You can easily incorporate a few portions of fruits and veggies into a smoothie, even for breakfast and you’ll already be ahead for the day,” says Natasha Arkley, personal trainer, and plant-based nutrition adviser in Reading, UK. For instance, spinach and kale go unnoticed when blended with mango, banana, or apple. You can also add superfoods like turmeric, flaxseed, cinnamon, berries, and oats, which she recommends eating regularly for their fiber. Buy frozen fruit to save money and ensure that you always have them on hand.

9. Swap in plants for half of the meat in recipes (if you eat meat)

If you’re just starting your plant-based journey and still have meat in rotation, it can be overwhelming to make the sweeping change to fully vegan or plant-based all at once. So start slowly by taking out half of the meat that is called for by a recipe and adding vegetables, legumes like black beans, or whole grains, says Ronette Lategan-Potgieter, Ph.D., dietitian and assistant professor of health sciences at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla.

 

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10. Put more plants on your kids’ plates, and get them cooking with you

Instilling habits like eating veggies and fruit at a young age gives kids a blueprint for a healthier life in the future, says Jenny Goldfarb, founder, and CEO of UnrealDeli, which became a national sensation when Shark Tank's Mark Cuban invested in it. Plus, “adding more plants to their plate is a great way to amp up their vitamin and mineral content, leaving them with a stronger immune system and a natural hankering for healthier foods,” she adds. You can hide veggies in recipes – for instance, add kale to black bean brownies – or just offer healthier substitutes like fresh fruit versus processed snacks if they have sugar cravings.

11. Eat your Omega-3s, even if you don't eat fish

Omega-3 fatty acids, which come in two types, DHA and EPA, have been shown to improve short-term and long-term memory, reduce brain inflammation and improve mood, says Sara Bonham, co-founder, and chief science officer at Perennial, which makes plant-based nutrition drinks with DHA Omega 3s. Most people think they need to eat fish to get their Omega -3s.

The surprise? Fish isn’t the original source of Omega-3s. “Fish eat phytoplankton, which eat Omega-3-rich algae, and the Omega-3s then build up in fish,” she explains. So why not bypass the fish and go straight to the source? Vegan algal oil is widely available in supplements and is also found in Perennial. Other good sources of Omega-3s are walnuts and flaxseed.

12. Go meatless at least one day a week, then add another day... and another...

Meatless Monday is a fantastic place to start eating more plant-based foods, Lategan-Potgieter says. Every week, plan all of your meals to be vegetarian or vegan on Mondays (or whatever day works for you). Try a new high-fiber, plant-based recipe each week, and by the end of the year, you’ll have 52 new recipes. Who knows? You might like doing meatless one day so much that you add other days. Then once you get the hang of it, try Tuesdays, then Wednesdays, then add Thursdays, and so on. When you get to a point where you feel comfortable, usually a few weeks into this experiment, you will find yourself not missing dairy and meat, and the creative fun of making meals plant-based can lead you to go fully or mostly meatless, which is healthier for your heart, the planet, animals, and long-term sustainability.