6 Things You Should Give Up in January That Aren't Drinking
Dryuary. Drynuary. Dry January. However you choose to refer to the ritual of foregoing booze, following what we can only assume was a December spent hurling wine-fueled expletives at various relatives and strangers, has become, for lack of a better term, a thing -- even if it's debatable whether a month of self-denial is really all that beneficial.
But, hey, some people really seem to dig the notion of a month-long mini-resolution, drinking-related or otherwise. If imbibing alcohol isn't something you really care to pause, you might consider taking a break from one of these six other things -- which might even have greater health benefits than laying off the sauce.
Even if you're the type of person who steadfastly sticks to the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and lean ground turkeys of the world, sadly the science is increasingly indicating that meat, regardless of type, just isn't all that good for you, and that's before we even get to the whole bacon cancer thing. We realize a lifetime without bacon or brisket or gas station fried chicken is a lifetime many of us would rather not contemplate, but you can hack 30 days, right? Especially if you're the type of person for whom meat is a constant mealtime fallback, you might find yourself forced to branch out into some new veg-centric meals that become a part of a more healthily balanced regimen going forward.
It's pretty well established at this point that the pervasiveness of sugar in our food system is a huge problem, and not just not just as it relates to obesity. The stuff can wreak havoc on everything from your brain to your skin to (yes) your sperm, so it's probably not a terrible idea to spend a month monitoring and avoiding added sugar in your diet. You might be surprised to find it in everything from your pasta sauce to your sandwich bread to your protein bar. As a weight loss tactic goes, cutting out sugar is much more influential than the fitness routine you're telling yourself you'll stick to -- ask this dude who dropped 120 pounds that way.
On the one hand, cheese is amazing. On the other hand, were we, as a species, really meant to develop a whole subsection of our diets based on stealing the sustenance from baby cows? Probably not. Dairy consumption is linked to a host of health (and environmental!) problems, and despite what certain commercial campaigns would have you believe, it isn't the best route to your daily calcium allotment, either. Maybe you'll start hitting the cheese again come February, but who knows, maybe you also will have developed a weirdly strong affinity for cashew milk or something?
Sure, not all take-out is created equal, and there are tweaks you can make to mitigate the damage when you throw in a Seamless order, but on balance you're better off cooking for yourself at home, where you know exactly what's going in the food and are far less likely to have access to a deep fryer. If you're the type of person who constantly falls back on the convenience of outsourcing dinner, forcing yourself to spend a month in the kitchen will do (hopefully lasting) wonders for your ability to meal plan in a more responsible fashion within the confines of your schedule. It will also 100% save you money, which you can maybe use to splurge on having someone else cook you a meal that doesn't involve a coupon for a free 2-liter bottle of soda with a purchase of $20 or more.
Much like takeout, microwave use isn't inherently bad -- you can, in fact, cook some rather nutritionally responsible stuff in there. But if we were to conduct a nationwide survey of all microwaves, we'd wager the expend a lot more wattage on frozen pizzas and Hot Pockets than, say, making cauliflower rice or whatever. Also, this has nothing to do with health, but leftovers taste SO much better reheated in a pan or toaster oven than haphazardly zapped in a microwave. If you're that person for whom "making dinner" invariably consists of defrosting a sad little container of preservative-laden food from your freezer, consider taking a break and expanding your repertoire.
It's probably unnecessary to explain to you why habitual regular soda consumption is problematic (see sugar), but the book on diet soda is increasingly foreboding as well, with studies indicating people who consume it eat more unhealthy food. Think of it this way: diet soda tells your brain it is indulging in some sweet calories. But the thing is, you aren't! So then your brain decides you deserve a big piece of cake (or a bucket of fried chicken?) because you're hungry, and, after all, you DID have that diet soda earlier: reward time! And even if that's not how it shakes out for you, you're still probably better off seeking your hydration from other sources. May we suggest a whole bunch of water?