Have a Lighter New Year

Set realistic goals when resolving to improve your diet.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

Every year many people set a New Year's resolution with the best of intentions. In January they are very motivated and determined to make this the year for improved eating habits and weight loss. Unfortunately, studies have show that after just a few weeks into the New Year, many people have broken their well-intended resolutions. Very often people make the mistake of setting unrealistic goals and end of up feeling hopeless and disappointed in themselves. Although dedication and motivation are necessary, the key to succeeding with a New Year's resolution is setting a realistic and obtainable goal. For example, if you are trying to cut back on sweets, it may be unrealistic to say I will not eat any sweets, but rather set a goal of eating only certain sweet foods such as the sugar-free varieties of Jell-o, pudding, popsicles and ice cream bars. This would be a goal that is easier to achieve goal, still improves your eating habits (and possibly your blood sugar levels) and would give you the confidence to set other healthy eating goals.

Here are some examples of basic healthy eating components that might be good for you. Pick one area at a time to work on and, once achieved, move onto the next goal.

1. Eat three meals per day. Eating three meals every day can improve your blood sugar levels and increase your metabolism. Many people skip meals, which can lead to overeating at the next meal, causing elevated blood sugar levels. Eating three meals daily is a basic step toward healthy eating, weight loss, and improved blood sugar levels.

2. Choose high-fiber foods. High-fiber foods can help lower cholesterol and may help lower blood sugar levels. These foods also stay in the stomach longer and provide a feeling of fullness, so they can be especially helpful if you are looking to lose weight. High-fiber foods include whole wheat bread and cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, and legumes.

3. Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This goes along with eating more high-fiber foods. Most Americans are eating too many starchy foods and are falling short of the recommended 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. It may sound like a lot, but a serving is: 1 cup fresh fruit, 1 medium piece fruit, 1 cup raw vegetables or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables. You can easily eat 2 servings of vegetables in one sitting by have a large salad with a meal or 1 cup cooked vegetables. A good New Year's resolution may be to eat 2 servings of fruit per day by including fruit with breakfast and taking one piece of fruit for a snack.

4. Choose lower-fat foods. Specifically, you should cut back on saturated fat and trans-fat foods, which can raise your cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is found in fatty meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs along with regular cheese, whole milk and salad dressings. Trans-fats are found in a lot of processed foods and snack foods. Lower-fat food options include lean meats such as chicken breast, lean ground turkey, fish, fruit, vegetables, skim milk, and light products such as reduced-fat cheeses and salad dressings.

Remember, to reward yourself for progress. Of course, a non-food reward is always recommended. Clothes, CDs, and pedometers make good rewards. Also, an appointment with a registered dietitian can help you even more with healthy eating. Have a Healthy New Year!

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Last Modified Date: June 17, 2013

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