New Year, New Habits!
You made it through the holiday season and are looking to make changes at the start of 2023. Maybe it’s weight loss or trying to have a healthier lifestyle. These are common goals most people make for their New Year’s resolutions each year. However, often people start off the new year strong with their resolution in mind but fizzle out in a couple months. If you fall into this category, here are 5 helpful tips from a registered dietitian to help you maintain new habits throughout the rest of the year and reach your health goals.
Top 5 Nutrition Tips for Starting the New Year Off Right:
1. Start Small
Too often people decide they want to make big changes at the start of the new year, whether it be weight loss or living a healthier lifestyle. It can be overwhelming, and people may not know where to start. Some may make too drastic of changes that they are unable to maintain for more than a couple months. The key is to make sustainable changes so that you can continue them long term. Pick a goal and start small. If your goal is to increase physical activity, and you currently are not doing any form of physical activity, you should not expect to be able to run 5 miles on the first day. Starting small by setting a goal to run for a certain amount minutes for a certain number of times a week may help you stay consistent and not be overwhelmed. Then, you can slowly increase the time or days of running to work closer toward or increase your goals. Focusing on small changes you can be consistent with long term is going to help you sustainably progress toward and achieve your goals.
2. Balance Your Plate
When it comes to structuring your plate, focus on three categories: non-starchy vegetables, a lean protein source and carbohydrates. The biggest portion of your plate, about half, should be composed of non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which can help you feel full and satisfied longer in between meals. Examples of non-starchy vegetables include dark leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers, onions, zucchini, salad, etc.
Protein is also an important component that helps you feel full and aids in muscle and cell repair. Focus on incorporating lean protein sources as often as you can. Lean protein sources include chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, eggs, and tofu. When choosing red meats, try to include leaner cuts to reduce fat intake.
The last category on your plate is carbohydrates. Carbs often get a bad reputation; however, they are essential to the body and our brain’s preferred fuel source. Focus on a quarter of your plate being filled with fiber-rich carbohydrates or starchy vegetables. Examples of carbohydrates include potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, corn, beans, lentils, peas, whole wheat bread, tortillas, rice, pasta, oats, etc. Composing your plate with non-starchy vegetables, lean protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates will help you feel full and satisfied longer in between meals, reducing cravings for unhealthy snacks.
3. Avoid Restriction
People tend to focus on what they cannot have in their diet. However, all foods fit into a person’s diet! Moderation of different foods is key. Focusing on what you cannot have often leads to wanting it even more. If you end up eating the food you have been avoiding, it may lead to overindulgence. You may feel like you failed because you ate the food you’ve been restricting. Instead of feeling like this, tell yourself all foods are welcome in a healthy diet and focus on having a balanced plate (non-starchy vegetable, lean protein, and fiber rich carbohydrate) plus your favorite foods in moderation.
Try structuring your mindset on what you can add to the plate. You can add more vegetables for additional fiber to help you feel full, or add more lean protein because you may have had a strenuous workout and your muscles need to repair. Focusing on what you can add to the plate rather than take away is a helpful mindset when focusing on improving eating habits.
4. Move Your Body
Find a form of movement you enjoy and can continue to do long term. Whether it is yoga, walking, running, strength training, dance, or biking, find what works for you! It is recommended to aim for 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week or 150 minutes total per week of moderate-intense activity. Exercise can help with weight loss and weight management and also prevent disease. The best form of exercise is one you enjoy and can maintain.
5. Have a Positive Mentality
Lastly, focus on a positive mentality going into the new year. Try to avoid the all or nothing mindset. Often, we put significant pressure on ourselves and if we do not hit our goals or stay on track, we may feel like giving up. Avoiding this mentality and focusing on consistency will help set you up for better success. This will help you reach your goals! Do not expect every day to be perfect, but continue to move forward with the goals you set for yourself as your motivation.
Wanting to make new nutrition habits in 2023? Avance Care offers nutrition counseling to fit your schedule. Book an appointment with a dietitian online or call a Wellness Coordinator at (919) 237-1337 option 4 today!