Portland knows how to make healthy taste good

It’s January, and that means it’s hard to escape reminders of the extra sweets and treats we consumed over the holidays. From gyms trying to sell us memberships to fad diets promising a “new you in the new year,” everyone seems resolved to get healthy in 2017.

Fortunately, Portland knows how to make healthy taste good. You don’t have to give up eating out to stay fit, and there are a handful of great options just a stone’s throw from campus.

It is as important to get healthy as it is difficult. Researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab found that, on average, people put on 1.3 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s—and it can take five months to lose that weight. Of course, exercise is an important part of being healthy, but so is what we eat. 

Eating healthily is especially hard because it seems like everyone has a different opinion about what that actually means. To eat carbs or not to eat carbs? Which fats are healthy? Should I count calories or macros? What is a macro, anyway? There’s an overwhelming amount of diet-related information to sort through. One thing everyone can agree on, though, is that eating plantsespecially fruits and vegetables—is important.

Whether you’re vegan or paleo or just trying to shed that extra pound, try to make plants the foundation of whatever regimen you’re adopting in the new year. Instead of counting calories, just make each calorie count: the food you eat should have some nutritious value. If you can pronounce the ingredients of what you’re eating and know how they’re made (ideally from a farm), you’re on the right track.

In a foodie city like Portland, resisting the urge to eat out—at restaurants often more concerned with pleasing our taste buds than our waistlines—can be hard, but we do have many good choices.

One of the closest nearby restaurants with the healthiest variety is Laughing Planet, right across from Pizza Schmizza and just a few blocks from the 4th Street food carts. Laughing Planet has every dieter covered, with a clearly labeled menu (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo) and lots of tasty and filling vegetable-based options.

If the cold weather is no deterrent, get some cardio in with a trek down to Kure Juice Bar on SW 5th and Taylor for a fruit and protein-packed smoothie, or head to the Kure Kitchen on SW 12th and Stark for one of their savory veggie-filled bowls.

Even old stand-bys like Chipotle and Yumm don’t have to be off-limits. Skip the white tortillas and white rice, resist that dousing of sour cream, ask for extra veggies, and turn a thousand-calorie burrito into a sensible but satisfying meal. Multi-ethnic eateries are great too, and because we are in Portland there are dozens of them only a short walk away. Just order that steaming bowl of pho or spicy Thai curry with lots of vegetables and minimal fluff. Substitute brown rice for white, cut back on the noodles, and have fruit instead of flan for dessert.

Wherever you decide to dine, if you splurge on the plant matter and pass on the white sugar, you’ll shed those cookies and eggnog hugging your hips long before spring.