Each year, eating healthier surfaces as a popular New Year’s resolution. It’s no surprise — a nutritious diet will help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic disease. But even with good intentions, 80 percent of our New Year’s resolutions fail by the middle of February.
So what’s the key to success? Preparation.
Choosing to improve your nutrition is a big life change – or at least it should be. With other life changes (such as moving, having a baby, or switching careers) you take the time to make a plan and prepare for the change. Why should eating healthier be any different?
Before you jump into healthy eating this new year (and we hope you will), follow these tips to help you prepare for success:
Define Your Reason for Healthy Eating
You know the general health benefits of eating a nutritious diet. Now dive a little deeper and visualize a healthier future for yourself.
For some, this desire for change is coming after lab tests indicate it’s necessary. For others, grandchildren or a new marriage provide reasons to live long and in good health. Whatever your motivation is, write it down or simply remind yourself of the big picture every time you have doubts.
Work With Your Doctor to Create a Nutrition Plan
It’s always good to involve your primary care provider (PCP) when embarking on a health change. Your doctor knows your medical history and can make suggestions to help you safely reach your goals.
Your PCP is the best person to determine the number of calories you should be eating. For women, a healthy calorie range is 1,600 to 2,400 a day. For men, the daily range is 2,000 to 3,000 calories. Depending on your current health and physical activity level, your PCP can guide you in how much to eat each day.
Assess Your Current Nutrition & Lifestyle
You have to look at where you are before deciding where you want (or need) to go. Keep a log of your eating habits for a week. It will help you understand the number of calories you consume, when you eat and what you eat.
Also keep track of your exercise and sleep. Being rested and getting the proper amount of exercise will help you make good food choices.
Make Healthy Eating Easy
To help your resolutions stick, your healthy eating plan should be realistic. Restricting your favorite foods or using complicated formulas will have you fighting with your willpower in no time.
The easiest way to monitor your diet is to measure calories. You can still eat some of your favorite foods, as long as you pay attention to portion size and count calories. Free or inexpensive fitness apps are a convenient way to track your food and exercise right on your phone. At your next appointment, your PCP can give you tips for portion control, like how to measure portions using your palm. With these tools, you’ll always know how much you are eating.
Set Up a Healthy Kitchen
Stocking up on whole foods will make healthy choices easier. Always make a list before heading to the store and try not to shop when you’re hungry. Watch this video to learn more about healthy eating guidelines.
While shopping, choose food from the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where the meat, produce, dairy and bakery are. Try to avoid choosing too many items from the middle of the store. That’s where you’ll find processed food and beverages, which may have added sugar and preservatives.
Give Healthy Eating Habits at Least 21 Days
It takes time to change routines and form new habits. While three weeks of healthy eating isn’t enough to guarantee lasting change, it is a good start.
After three weeks, you’ll be more comfortable with tracking your calories and identifying portion size. You’ll also see what aspects of healthy eating are the most challenging for you. At your next appointment with your PCP, remember to discuss solutions to keep you on track for the next 21 days and beyond.
Ready to Make Better Nutrition Choices?
If you’re hoping to eat healthier in the New Year, schedule an appointment with your PCP or if you do not have a PCP we welcome you to make an appointment with a provider at any of our Primary Care locations.