When the calendar flips to the first day of January, we all have very good intentions. We vow to quit sugar, cut carbs, and trade chips and pizza for kale and quinoa. But by mid-month, many people are flailing. By February, most have thrown in the towel. What’s worse, when these resolutions fizzle, a lot of people end up feeling like failures—and decide that healthy eating is just too hard.
As a dietitian, I hate seeing that happen. Most resolutions are simply too unrealistic and impractical for anyone to keep long-term. So scrap the notion of resolutions in favor of these five tips for what you do (and how you think). They’re small—but powerful!
- Shrink your goals: When I work with people on goal setting, I always recommend setting very small goals. That’s because crushing goals (even tiny ones) feels good—and even better, feeds motivation. So you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and want to keep going. For instance, instead of vowing to drink a gallon of water a day, fill a water bottle in the morning and make a point to sip on it throughout the day. When that becomes routine, try to refill it at least once.
- Turn “should” into “want”: Changing your inner monologue is a powerful way to shift your thinking. Instead of dragging yourself out of bed because you “should” exercise, tell yourself you “want” to exercise because it gives you more energy for the day. Instead of telling yourself you “should” have a salad, remind yourself that you “want” to have fresh greens because they’re delicious, crunchy, and make you feel good.
- ADD foods to your diet: So many diet plans emphasize what you CAN’T have, which just feels lousy. It’s better to think of the foods you CAN add to your diet instead: more fresh fruits and veggies, more healthy fats like olive oil and avocados, more nuts and seeds, more whole gains. When you add more healthy foods to your meals and snacks, less nutritious, empty-calorie options naturally fall away.
- Make it easy: When healthy choices are easy to make, they quickly become routine no-brainers. Put a bowl of ready-to-grab washed apples and pears on the counter, have pre-washed greens and chopped veggies in the fridge, and keep a pretty pitcher of water with citrus wedges on your desk.
- Push the “reset” button: One of the biggest mistakes I see people making is waiting for a new year, month, or week to start fresh. The reality is, you can hit the “reset” button whenever you need to. For me, a morning smoothie packed with fresh produce signals a fresh start, especially after a night of heavier eating. There’s just something about it that guides me toward a day of healthy choices. And no matter how hectic that day gets, I know I’ve already gotten a few servings of fruits and vegetables. Here are some recipes to try: Simple ABC Smoothie with Tart Apples, No Dairy Very Berry Smoothie with Sweet Apples, Tart Apple, Strawberry, and Basil Hidden Greens Smoothie, Super Green Smoothie with Sweet Apples and Pear & Almond Milk Ice Smoothie.
Happy New Year!