A Dietitian’s Tips for Better Nutrition in 2017

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It’s that time of year again and we’re all starting to take a closer look at our health, lifestyle, and goals for the New Year. Whether we’re feeling a bit guilty from indulging over the holidays or we’re ready to take steps towards improving our long-term health, the majority of New Year’s Resolutions are food and fitness related. Many of us start off the New Year with good intentions, however, by March, only 8% of us have stuck with these goals.

When setting your goals this year, try to differentiate between life-changing goals and lifestyle habits. It’s great to have goals, but without altering our habits, goals can be difficult to reach. Goals give us direction. They are the end point. Habits are the little things in our day-to-day life that make our goals a reality. Instead of “going on a diet” consider small changes you can make in your daily life to create long-term lifestyle changes, also known as habits. “Going on a diet” puts us in a vicious cycle- once we start, we’ll likely be back on a diet each New Year. Instead, you can set yourself up for success and prevent the dreaded yearly diet by instilling simple, healthy habits into your day-to-day life.

Every large goal, has a smaller stepping stone. I’d encourage you to start small with just 1 or 2 SMART goals. Check your intentions – are they Specific? Measurable? Achievable? Realistic? Time-Bound?

Here are 5 tips to improve your health, shed a few pounds, and feel your best in 2017!

1.     Give your Kitchen a Makeover

Make healthy eating in your home the easy and obvious choice. Instead of displaying cereal boxes on the counter, put fruit and veggie bowls front and center. Place healthy snacks at eye level, and move chips and cookies out of reach to the back of the cabinet or to the very top or bottom shelf.

2.     Meal Prep is Key

Take an hour on Sunday to bake a batch of chicken for the week or slice and dice fruits and veggies for easy grab and go snacks. Meal prep doesn’t have to mean eating the same meal every night. One batch of chicken can turn into chicken salad, pizza toppings, stir fry, quesadillas, fajitas, chicken nuggets, etc.

3.     Focus on Fruits and Veggies

Aim to include 1 serving at each meal. The USDA recommends that we eat 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of veggies each day, consuming one at each meal (and snack!) puts us right on track with our nutrition goals.

4.     Stay Hydrated!

Every system in our body relies on water. Hydration is important for healthy skin and hair, controlling body temperature and blood pressure, and even improving energy levels. It can be easy to forget to drink water this time of year, but it is just as important in these dry winter months as it is in the heat of the summer. Try flavoring water with fresh fruit or a splash of 100% fruit juice to cut down on excess sugars and empty calories in sugary beverages.

5.     Dare I say Go Meatless?

Although difficult to suggest in a state that takes such pride in their fresh, local, and quality meats and wild game, research has shown plant-based diets reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Meatless Monday is a national campaign encouraging people to do without meat for just 1 day each week; in 2017 I challenge you to do the same.

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!