Set the bar low and you'll never fail. It's genius!

Every wise person knows that January is pretty much the worst time to make drastic changes to your eating habits. It’s cold, you probably have a cold, and you can’t turn a corner without falling over a leftover Quality Street or a little bowl of nuts screaming “eat me!".


Instead of shooting too high and landing face-down in a box of doughnuts by 10 January, follow this gentle guide to more manageable resolutions …


I will only eat biscuits that involve fruit

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fig roll

Drew Bates / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: triplefivechina

While nobody could be expected to live through the vast, grey bleakness of these early months without something crunchy to soak up their tea, there is room to reassess your biscuit choice. Thunk before you dunk, as the saying goes. Could that little square of fat, flour and sugar work harder for your nutritional benefit? Could you use biscuits to help you slide gently into a new healthy eating regime, like a small, crumbly toboggan?


For example, if you only go for biscuits that have an association with fruit – be that actually featuring fruit (garibaldis; fig rolls), having waved merrily across a factory floor to some fruit once (lemon puffs) or simply reminding you, "hey – fruit exists!" (jaffa cakes) – you’ll be on your way to achieving your five-a-day round about mid-June.


I will stop eating things straight from the pot with a spoon

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Instead, learn to spread it on a cracker, piece of bread or other suitable receptacle like a civilised human. This goes for Nutella, speculoos spread, peanut butter and mustard, but probably not yoghurt. Use your best judgment.


I will not eat cheese, unless it is key to the structural integrity of a dish

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You can almost certainly live without cheese as an optional topping. That handful on the top of your chilli con carne; the melting yellow blanket on the plate of pasta; the extra bit of parmesan on the thing you’re pretty sure has cheese in it already – skip those and feel like a total champion every time.


But cheese that is needed for architectural purposes, such as layering a lasagne or welding a toastie to the roof of your mouth, is another matter. After all, removing the cheese from a dish that’s built around cheese would be like playing culinary Jenga – take out the crucial block and it all comes tumbling down.


NB: you can also claim special dispensation for dishes that have "cheese" in their name. No one can be expected to eat plain macaroni or cauliflower, even if it is January. 


I will poach, not fry

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Saving you from a whole lot of excess oil, this approach is much healthier where eggs are concerned. Poached chips might take a bit more getting used to, as might stir-poached vegetables, etc.


I will only eat desserts if someone else has paid for them

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The Simpons, Fox via tumblr/onlyget-closer

There’s nothing ruder in this world than saying no to a gift of cake or pastry, so you can eat pudding provided it’s on somebody else’s dollar.


This is an excellent resolution because it tests not only your willpower, but also how much your friends love you. Free samples, other people’s birthday cakes and abandoned slices of pie are all fair game.


Oh, and don’t resort to hanging around cake shops looking winsome. That almost never works.


I will make sure my salad is at least 50% actual salad

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Jules / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: stone-soup

A simple rule to check if your salad is actually a salad: look at it. Can you see any green beneath the meat, cheese, pasta and croutons? If not, try adding more leaves. If you still can’t, there’s a chance you might actually be eating a burger or a bowl of mayonnaise pasta. Easily done, we know. 


Nobody’s suggesting you need to make 2015 the year you eat salads that are ONLY leaves, of course, but aim to offset all the "fun" salad bar items such as potatoes, pasta and marshmallows by covering at least half of your plate in vegetation.


I will eat ice cream as the manufacturer intended

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Eating ice cream

Mad Men, Lionsgate via Tumblr

This means accepting each serving as it comes out of the tub – not gouging out every chunk of cookie dough, brownie or caramel like a gold miner and leaving a hollow cave of boring vanilla or chocolate for everyone else. Sometimes life isn’t fair, and ice cream is as good a place to learn this as any.  

Happy abstinence!