How to Commit to Eating Healthier this New Year

By Registered Dietitian Joni Gerken


A national survey found that about 50% of New Year’s resolutions are related to eating healthier, but unfortunately at the end of the year less than 10% of people feel that they have succeeded in following their New Year’s resolution. So, why do so many people fail at such an important goal to take care of themselves?


The new year is a great time to make positive changes, especially after all the stress and business of the holidays are coming to an end. A big mistake that many people make is unrealistic goals. Often when people want to make the change, they think they need to change everything and swing the opposite direction, but a few small changes that you can stick to can make a big difference. Also, resolutions tend to be outcome-based, such as losing 50 pounds, rather than specific goals to get you there. Make a couple of goals S.M.A.R.T. goals that will help you get to your desired outcome.


S.M.A.R.T. Goals

• Specific- Exactly what you want to accomplish.

• Measurable- Make sure there is a way to determine what degree you are meeting your goal.

• Achievable- Make sure it is a goal that is realistic for you.

• Relevant- Make sure the goal will help you meet your desired outcome.

• Time-bound- Have a time set for a target of meeting your goal. Often small intervals are easier to meet than a long-term goal.


Examples:

o I will eat 2 cups of vegetables at least 6 days a week.

o I will only drink 2 sodas per week.

o I will choose fruit for a least one snack every day.


Be honest about your current habits. This will help you to determine an achievable goal. Sometimes this might even take writing down what you eat over a couple of days, to get a realistic understanding of how you really do currently eat.


Know what motivates you. Understanding why a goal is important to you can help you to stay focused. Do you want to have more energy to play with your children or grandchildren? Do you want to lose weight to better control your blood sugar to avoid diabetes complications? When it gets hard to stick to you a goal, you can remember why it was important in the first place.


Find support to help you stick to your goal. Sometimes we need outside motivation and accountability to stick to a goal. Find a friend or two that are also trying to accomplish a goal. There is power in numbers.

Lastly, a resolution does not need to be all or nothing. Even if you have a couple of days that deviate from your resolution, you can always steer your focus back towards your goal. A healthy diet is about making good choices most of the time. A strict diet is rarely sustainable.