Most people view the start of a new year as an opportunity to achieve big goals. For example running a marathon, hitting the gym every day at dawn or losing 20 pounds. Such high goals, particularly without a game plan on how to accomplish them, often disappear from memory by spring.
Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) share their top health tips this new year season.
‘Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics national spokespeople encourage their clients to keep three concepts in mind when planning 2019 New Years resolutions: 'Create an action plan. Pace yourself. Stay positive.'’
Create an action plan
"Create personal goals based on what actionable steps you can take to meet them," says Debbie Petitpain, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charleston, S.C. "Set an actionable goal of exercising three times a week and eating a piece of fruit after dinner instead of a piece of cake. Decide ahead of time of what success looks like to you. Otherwise, how will you know when you've achieved it?"
Pinpoint the reasons for your New Year's resolutions, says Malina Linkas Malkani, an RDN in New York City. "Is your ultimate goal to feel better so you can be more present for your children? If so, it's not the number on the scale but how you feel after making lifestyle changes. The more mindful your approach, the more likely you are to stick with a healthier lifestyle long-term."
Consider holding off on lifestyle changes until mid-January to avoid stress, says Libby Mills, an RDN in Philadelphia. "Give yourself time to create a regular schedule so you can slowly incorporate healthy lifestyle changes as you go along."
"Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to improving your health," says Angel Planells, an RDN in Seattle. "Start with a small change and build from there. You can start with something as simple as eating an extra serving of a fruit or vegetable per day."
"Focus on creating a lifestyle change instead of resolving to a short-term, quick-fix diet," says Rahaf Al Bochi, an RDN in Atlanta. "Fad diets are not sustainable and may result in disordered eating and unhealthy relationships with food. Instead, focus on healthful foods you can add to your diet instead of foods you want to remove."
Do what makes you happy, says Cordialis Msora-Kasago, an RD in Los Angeles. "There is no sense in adding tofu and kale to your plate in the name of good health if they make your tummy churn. Eat nutritious foods you like, and choose physical activities you love. You'll have more success in maintaining your healthier lifestyle if you are enjoying yourself."
Don't give up, says Sandra Arevalo, an RDN in New York City. "Every new day is a new opportunity to focus on your goals and appreciate your achievements."
All Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokespeople say: Spend time with people who share your desire to become healthier. Positivity will inspire you to stay on track.