Are you considering what to do for your New Year’s resolution this year? Many resolutions have something to do with health. Many times a resolution may include weight loss or a change in diet. Being a dietitian, I am often extra busy with the New Year, and many people come to me for help to follow through with their resolutions. Then February comes, and for some reason I am not nearly as busy. Hmm . . . I am sure you have seen this in your circles as well.
I am a dietitian. And along with that title comes many assumptions from those outside of my profession. We are known as rigid and strict when it comes to food. We are known for ALWAYS eating what is good for us, and NEVER allowing an indulgence. It is inevitable that when I encounter a new friend, she asks me what I do. I tell her. She stops chewing, and looks down at her plate, quickly assessing it and looking at my face to see if I will approve. Then she usually asks me about some sort of diet, and whether or not I “believe in it.”
The truth is that I don’t really believe in diets. I also don’t really believe in resolutions. A diet or a resolution almost always is short lived.
Our motivation is high at the start and gradually dwindles over time. A few weeks or months in, and we are right back where we started at the beginning. The cycle continues. How many of you have ever said, “I’ll start again on Monday”? Or worse, “I’ll start again next January”?
We should desire to be healthy, and we should consider how we can approach this goal in a realistic manner. Our brains don’t do well with large changes, which is what many of our New Year’s resolutions are. In fact, when the change is too drastic, our brains will go into “fight or flight” mode. This means that when we try to make this change, we can’t think logically about it. We are thinking in survival mode. Our brains turn on the fear and deprivation lights that cause us to eat the very things we are trying not to eat. We cannot think clearly to make the changes we want to make. So we end up not doing anything.
Instead of trying to make a drastic change this New Year, consider something small. Small and manageable. Once you have accomplished one small change, you can then build on it, and make more small changes.
Let’s all resolve to be realistic this New Year’s.
Let’s all resolve to take care of our bodies in the best way that we know how, not only for our sake, but for the sake of our children and our families.
We need to consider how to balance healthy, tasty, and kid friendly every day. Here are some very practical steps to consider for your New Year’s resolution this year.
1. Follow the 80/20 rule.
This rule encourages healthy, good food choices 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, you can deviate. Some examples of a deviation may include a glass of wine, some chocolate, a slice of white bread, or a slice of birthday cake. The problem for many of us is that when these deviations often become more than 20% of our diets, they become the norm.
2. Eat more veggies!
There has never been a diet that discourages eating vegetables. Why? Because they are incredibly good for you. They are low calorie, full of lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and they fill you up! Try to incorporate veggies in MOST meals and snacks. Aim for 4-5 cups per day. Choose fresh or frozen varieties and try for different colors. The five colors to focus on are red, orange/yellow, green, blue/purple, or white. Yes, even the white fruits and veggies are worth it!
3. Balance protein and carbohydrates.
This is perhaps the most debated guideline. Many people tend to gravitate to one extreme or the other (i.e. paleo vs vegetarianism). Balance is really the best. Do make sure you choose a whole grain, starchy vegetable (potato, corn, peas, winter squash), or fruit as your carbohydrate MOST of the time. Save the processed carbohydrates for that 20% we talked about earlier.
Choose a variety of proteins, fruits, carbohydrates, dairy, and veggies. Please don’t eat baby carrots for every single lunch this week! Try something new like snap peas, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, or sliced bell pepper. Variety is a major component of a healthy diet.
5. Pay attention to your hunger cues!
Avoid letting yourself get too hungry or too full. Work on listening to your hunger and trust those cues to help you be at your happy weight. Depending on your hunger cues, you will probably find yourself eating 4-6 times a day if you are listening to your body.
You have 5 “resolutions” to consider now: 5 small, practical, manageable steps.
Try picking one of these ideas the first week this month. Then, next week, do it again, and then again. After a couple of weeks, you won’t even have to think about it anymore; it will have become one of your habits. I hope you all are encouraged that you don’t have to do something BIG to change you and your family’s health. One step at a time.