Message from the RDs: Improving your Nutrition in the New Year – Setting Yourself up for Success by Mark LeVine

It’s hard to believe, but another year has come and gone, and it’s time again to set those health goals for 2017. If you’re like many, you may be feeling frustrated or disappointed that you were unable to reach the health goals you set for yourself the past year.

The most common New Year’s resolutions usually involve losing weight and improving eating habits. In this fast-paced world we live in, specifically when it comes to weight loss, we want results and we want them fast. With our unlimited access to information and so called “experts” offering their opinions, it can be very tempting to succumb to fad diets to get the promised quick results. Be aware though, that any diet or eating plan that emphasizes or eliminates a specific food or food group should raise a red flag! This goes against the principles of healthy eating, balance, variety, and moderation.

In addition, fad diets are usually too low in calories and can result in lethargy and moodiness, which make them unsustainable. The belief is that fad diets are something that you go “on” and then you go “off”. After coming off one of these diets, most people regain any weight they may have lost and then blame themselves. They get caught in a vicious cycle of trying different extreme tactics, and when they fail they think the reason was for lack of discipline or willpower. The real problem though, was that they are going about weight loss the wrong way.

The reason many people don’t reach their goals, is that they don’t define them or consider them achievable. When you consider what nutrition or weight loss goals you want to pursue, it’s important to realize that a “lifestyle”, rather than “diet”, refers to the way we eat throughout our lives. It’s including all foods in moderation, and the changes you want to make are permanent, not something you only do for 2-3 months.

When it comes to setting nutrition goals, remember that small changes can lead to big rewards, and no change is too small. Once you see where you can make changes, choose a place to start. It will be much less intimidating to focus on one or two dietary changes rather than trying to completely overhaul your entire way of eating. Once you see how much of an impact making the small changes has, it is easier to stay motivate to continue incorporating other healthier eating habits.

When it comes to eating healthier, those who have the most success are not the ones who choose to give up all desserts and their favorite foods. The most successful people are the ones who realize that change is a process, and it takes patience with themselves, and to sustain long-term changes it’s best to start small and continue to build upon their accomplishments.

Happy holidays and New year!