New Year, New Habits with the Bean Institute

Did you know New Year’s resolutions actually started with ancient Babylonians over 4,000 years ago? Babylonians promised to pay their debts as a way to gain their gods’ favor over the next year. Though paying your debts is still a good idea, resolutions have changed quite a bit since these long-ago traditions. Personally, I have never been one to make resolutions, mostly because for me they are difficult to stick to, which turns out to be the case for most people. According to, about 45% of Americans make a resolution and only 8% achieve them. However, small changes in the new year can get you moving in a positive direction.

Your goals can vary in size and number (because who said it only has to be only one?), but they should be attainable for you. Imagine how good it would feel to make a change you can stick with! Your goals could focus on your health, home life, spirituality, work, food (including beans) and even fun.

I recommend thinking about your goal as a habit instead of a destination. Having a weight loss goal can be helpful for some, but we often incorporate unsustainable habits in an effort to reach that goal. Diets often fail because of limits that are required to sustain them. For example, by eliminating carbs many people can shed pounds, but that weight will come back when you decide to eat carbs again. Plus, some carbohydrates, like the fiber in beans, are important for good health.

Positive habits, on the other hand, are achievable and easier to maintain. You’re not trying to reach a destination, but instead you’re moving in a positive direction. Be specific with the habit you want to create. Eating healthy is a good idea, but it’s too vague to be a goal. Here are some easy ways to incorporate some positive habits, explore new foods and put you on a path to good health:

  • Cook with a new bean
  • Try cooking dry beans (you’ll be surprised how easy it is)
  • Try new recipes (bonus if they include beans)
  • Drink a glass of water before meals to help you not overeat
  • Walk around the block once per day
  • Find a workout partner
  • Try a new cuisine
  • Eat plant protein at least once per week (black bean burgers are one of my favorites)

It’s also important to remember that your overall mental health and happiness can also contribute to your physical health. Check out these ideas to help you relax, nourish relationships and enjoy life:

  • Sit in silence for 5 minutes each day
  • Read a book for fun
  • Talk to a coworker you haven’t before
  • Meditate or pray for 5 minutes each day
  • Play with your child
  • Take a trip, even if it’s just a weekend
  • Eat dinner as a family
  • Call a friend you haven’t contacted in a while
  • Keep your phone in a place where it won’t be a distraction during family time, like in a desk drawer

These are just a few ideas that can help your overall health in positive ways without adding more stress or pressure to your life. Whether you want to incorporate more activity into your day or to cook more nutritious meals at home, beans are a great addition for any lifestyle. They are nutritional powerhouses and sources of plant protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

We may think about our resolutions at the new year, but every day is a chance to cultivate a positive habit. Here’s to a year filled with health and happiness!

Read more in the January 2024 Bean Bulletin and subscribe to get the latest bean news delivered right to you.

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