As 2011 marches on, our well-intended New Year's Resolutions can gradually fall by the wayside. I have found that when my New Year's goals are broad and vague— "Be healthier! Lose weight!—I quickly give them up. When my goals are small, specific and attainable, I'm more likely to keep going.
Here's a small goal I've surprisingly managed to keep up for a year now: Give up the afternoon soda. I realized in early 2010 that I was spending a dollar a day at the vending machine on Diet Coke or whatever soda struck my fancy on any given afternoon. Not only was this habit unhealthy, it was costing me a minimum of $20 a month. That added up to $240 a year that I would much rather spend differently.
So I gave up the unhealthy soda and adopted a daily habit that benefits my health and my wallet—tea. Tea is not only healthy, but it is inexpensive and can be made in many different ways. It provides the same afternoon pick-me-up as soda, without the negative health consequences and caffeine crash. Hot tea is the perfect cold-weather beverage, because it has less caffeine than coffee and can help ward off sickness with its antioxidants.
For those who dislike the taste of hot tea, it's worth trying out different brands. Twinings, PG Tips and Tetley's British Blend are high-quality black teas. For herbal varieties, try Tazo or Celestial Seasonings. You may find that after a few attempts, you look forward to your afternoon tea break. Hot tea (especially unsweetened or combined with milk) can be an acquired taste, but aspertame and high-fructose corn syrup were also acquired tastes.
If you decide to start a hot tea habit, the microwave is not the ideal way to heat the water. It's worth investing in a hot pot. Basic models run from $15 to $20, and they enable you to boil water without access to a stove. When preparing a cup of hot tea, make sure the water is at boiling point. For optimum taste, pour the boiling water over the tea bag. Steep for three to five minutes. Remove the tea bag. You can flavor your tea with honey, sugar, milk or lemon. Don't combine milk with lemon or citrus teas; the milk will curdle.
I look forward each day to my afternoon tea. And I don't even miss my Diet Coke.