Winter break is officially at a close, marking the beginning of a new semester of interesting classes, rewarding extracurricular activities and long-lasting memories. A deeply rooted tradition to focus on self-care and self-improvement, New Year’s resolutions are in full swing for many approaching the New Year with goals and ambitions to change. Surveys reveal that behind improving mental health, improving fitness and losing weight, an improved diet consistently ranks in the top five of the most common New Year’s resolutions. But what does a food-related resolution look like and how can students accomplish this goal? After all, the ball has already dropped — now let’s get it rolling.
- Try New Foods, Ingredients, and Cuisines
Exploring and expanding the types and compositions of food one eats can be a great way to experience new tastes and cultures. Additionally, including more variation can benefit your metabolic and gut health. The Cleveland Clinic wisely recommends, “Add a little spark to your meal routine and you’ll avoid diet burnout” by keeping things fresh and exciting on a consistent basis. Although it can be daunting to step out of your food comfort zones, trying unfamiliar foods can often produce surprising results.
At Cornell, kosher dining is readily available at 104West! and Morrison Dining, in addition to other dining halls throughout the campus. Halal meals are also available at Morrison Dining and upon request at Keeton House Dining Room.
Experimenting with new vegetarian and vegan options can also introduce a variety of tasty alternatives to meat and dairy products. Off-campus, visiting restaurants that you’ve never tried or are unfamiliar with can be an exciting way to become more familiar with Ithaca, support small businesses and offer a pleasant surprise to your taste buds. Visitithaca.com reveals that, shockingly, Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than New York City itself, highlighting the local diversity of restaurants that can be made the most of while living in Ithaca.
- Clean Up Food Regrets with Balanced Meals
Eating in moderation and including products from all food groups can be an excellent method to get in balanced nutrients. Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate recommends making one-half of your plate fruits and veggies, one-fourth whole grains and one-fourth protein while consuming healthy plant oils such as olive oil and peanut oil in moderation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out that maintaining balance between food groups “keeps skin, teeth and eyes healthy, supports muscles, strengthens bones, boosts immunity, and helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight.” Although sometimes not as tasty or appetizing, these cleaner whole foods will have you on the fast track to an improved diet.
- Limit Food Waste
The Cornell Food Recovery Network details that “40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted…[and] 3.6 million tons of food are wasted by universities across the U.S. each year.” Earth.org emphasizes that wasting food pointlessly uses up water, creates greenhouse gasses and harms land and marine biodiversity.
“When we throw away food, we also throw away the precious resources that went into producing this food…[and] there is a huge need to reduce this environmental footprint,” Earth.org stresses.
Food waste can be mitigated by only taking food you can finish, shopping responsibly, and being on top of expiration dates. Any leftovers can creatively be reinvented into new meals instead of being immediately fated for the trash can. Left-over proteins, veggies, and grains can be quickly stir-fried or roasted, fruits and veggies juiced, and bread blitzed into bread crumbs following the advice of various easily accessible recipes for left-overs. Additionally, composting food and paper products takes advantage of “nature’s way of recycling” that the United States Environmental Protection Agency illustrates can resourcefully “reduce our trash, address climate change and build healthy soil.”
For those living off-campus or on limited meal plans, cooking your own meals can allow for more control over ingredients and cooking styles, which can offer much more flexibility in sticking to a diet that best fits your goals. Additionally, public health experts Julia A. Wolfson and Sara N. Bleich suggest that home-cooking meals “more frequently is associated with lower consumption of total kilojoules, carbohydrates, fat, sugar and fast food.”
While it is undoubtedly difficult finding where to start on your food-related goals for 2023, there are fortunately many options and opportunities available at Cornell to give a try. Changing goals into habits can be the hardest part of a New Year’s resolution, but hopefully some of the objectives listed above can offer insight into achieving an improved diet. Happy Dining and Happy New Year!
Kyle Roth is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. He can be reached at [email protected].