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Adlen Robinson: Make 2022 your healthiest year ever

Lately, I have heard from lots of people who are interested in cleaning up their diet once and for all. 

Some people said that during the past two years, they gained quite a bit of weight and really want and need to make a change. In addition, the pandemic has taught us just how important our immune systems are. If you want to shed some pounds, or just want to pump up your health, keep reading.

Adlen Robinson
- photo by Adlen Robinson
First things first. It is time to do a major kitchen clean-out. I know that throwing away food is not something most of us want to do. 

Still, once you begin reading ingredient labels of the foods that are in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry, you are likely going to be more than eager to discard foods that contain harmful ingredients. So, how do you know what to look for?

Basically, if you cannot pronounce an ingredient or don’t know what it is, you should probably just throw it out. 

That might seem harsh, but if you are consuming things in boxes, bags, and many jars, you are probably consuming preservatives, food dyes and sadly, chemicals. 

If you cannot bear to throw things away, perhaps you can offer the food to a close friend who wouldn’t think it strange to take such a donation.

Going forward, try to stick with purchasing only “real” food. For the most part, almost all processed food contain sugar, refined carbohydrates, and all sorts of other junk. If you must buy something packaged, such as crackers, look for an ingredient list that has only four or five ingredients. 

Organic is always the best option — thankfully many major companies are getting in on the organic movement. I love organic Triscuits, and they do not cost much more than the regular non-organic ones. Pastured eggs are more than the grocery store generic types, but they are also so much better for you and also taste better. 

That is worth a few dollars in my book. Organic pickles are not too much more than their counterparts, and they don’t contain harmful food dyes. The list goes on and on, but you won’t know until you begin scrutinizing those ingredient labels.

Shoot to eliminate sugar from your diet, or at least as much as possible. Most people think yogurt is a healthy food choice, but if you read the labels, you will soon see that most yogurts are loaded with sugar. 

Some advertise they have fruit, but when you read the labels, you find that it is not real fruit. Instead, opt for plain, organic yogurt (it is best if it comes from grass-fed cows), and add your own sweetener of honey and/or fresh fruit. Speaking of honey, the best kind to look for is local, raw honey — Leonard’s in Cumming has some good ones!

Don’t forget to make detailed menu plans. Nothing sabotages a healthy eating plan faster than not having a solid menu plan. For best results, make a plan for the entire week, including snacks. Even if your snack is just a handful of nuts or a cup of yogurt with fruit, writing it down keeps it real and helps you stick to your plan. 

For busy days and nights, definitely utilize your slow cooker. By all means, take advantage of the weekends to do some batch cooking. 

Cook five or six chicken breasts, cut them into bite-sized pieces, and then freeze them in individual portions. You can use the cooked chicken in all sorts of dishes — enchiladas, chicken salad, soups, or tossed into salad for more protein. 

Soups, stews and chili are always terrific choices to make in the slow cooker and then store in individual containers. Most freeze well, so they are perfect for making ahead.

Keep fresh fruit and cut up vegetables on hand for snacking. I once heard a nutritionist say, “If you think you are hungry, but don’t want an apple or an orange, then you are not hungry.” 

I also love to keep a bowl full of boiled eggs in the refrigerator. It is amazing that you can be super hungry, but once you eat a boiled egg, your appetite is satiated and you can go hours without eating anything else.

Drink more water. Most of us are dehydrated or just don’t drink enough water. Filtered water is best — invest in a filter for your sink as well as for your water dispenser on your refrigerator. 

If plain water doesn’t appeal to you, try sprucing it up with lemon, lime, orange or even cucumber slices. 

You can also add some fresh mint leaves for added flavor. Keep an insulated water bottle with you at all times and drink frequently. I love tea and keep a pitcher of half green tea, half black tea in my refrigerator at all times — again, organic tea is best.

Don’t tell yourself you can never have the foods you crave. If your favorite food is pizza, and you tell yourself you can never again have pizza, that is probably all you will ever think about. 

Instead, enjoy your favorite “cheat” foods on occasion, and then get right back on your clean eating program. One pizza night is not going to ruin your overall healthy eating plan.

I hope you will have success with your 2022 health plan. Keep me posted on how it is going. Here’s to you in 2022.

Adlen Robinson is an award winning columnist and author of “Organic Food and Kitchen Matters.” You can email her at