Keep Positive in New Year to Succeed at Diet Goals

As 2019 begins, many of us are setting goals setting goals to improve our health  – and that often means trying to lose weight. While these goals begin with good intentions, they often end in frustration. So this year, we decided to keep it simple. We asked our experts for ideas on one good resolution to set for 2019.

Keep it positive, they advised.

“Often times with diet-related resolutions, we constantly focus on what to take out of our diet such as less sweets, less fried food, less sodas, etc.,” said Sheena Gregg, MS, RDN, LD and assistant director of the Department of Health Promotion & Wellness at the University of Alabama.

Instead, she recommends focusing on a resolution that adds more to the diet – more water, more fresh fruits and vegetables. “Putting a positive spin on a diet resolution takes out the deprivation factor that typically renders us unsuccessful with keeping our resolutions long term,” Gregg said.

Dr. Wendy Dahl, associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida, agrees with this upbeat approach.

“I think the best resolutions are positive, i.e. what positive steps can we take,” she said.

In 2019, she encourages us to say “yes” to fiber.

“Higher fiber intakes are associated with lower weights (BMI), limiting weight gain over time, and are helpful for weight loss,” she said. “Bonus benefits of higher fiber diets are lower blood pressure and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer and kidney disease. They also can help to manage numerous chronic diseases. You can’t beat that!”

Some ideas Dr. Dahl offers for adding fiber to your diet:

  • Choose whole fruit vs fruit juice. It has more fiber and is more satisfying.
  • Opt for whole grain vs refined breads and pastas. “On average, we consume one extra grain per day. Cutting back on one grain with added fat and sugar is a great strategy for weight loss or maintenance.”
  • Love legumes — beans, peas and lentils. They’re the highest fiber food out there.

On January 1, it’s easy to feel motivated. But Gregg said you can stay on track the rest of the year with a little planning – and maybe a pocket calendar or alarm on your smart phone.

“My clients often report the most success when they’ve set specific dates on their calendar throughout the year for re-evaluating their goals. Keeping your goals on a calendar or journal with a specific task of evaluation can provide an opportunity for modifying your goals if needed,” she said.

Keep a positive attitude with these monthly or quarterly check-ins, as well.

“We often approach our new year’s resolutions with an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. However, if we give ourselves the task of evaluating our progress while also giving ourselves permission to modify our goals as needed, we have a much better chance of continuing our lifestyle changes throughout the year,” Gregg said.

Set positive goals, take simple steps, evaluate your progress and adjust as necessary – 2017 can be a year of healthy success!

What is your positive health goal for the new year?

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Originally published Dec. 20, 2016.