Make a FRESH Start This Year!

Welcome to the most popular time of year to go on a weight loss diet as New Year’s resolutions swing into action. But rather than resolving to “never eat ice cream or French fries again,” it’s best to make small, measurable and consistent changes. Chances are folks who force themselves too far into deprivation mode will fall off the wagon right around Super Bowl Sunday. Research shows that the most successful dieters – those who lose weight and keep it off for the long haul – practice healthy eating and exercise habits all year long.

Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD, gives us some tips and tricks for starting the new years happy AND healthy!


Here are five FRESH food resolutions to help you lose weight and improve your health in 2015:

F – Freshen up your food life

Discover the delicious bounty of healthy foods – from garden-fresh varieties of greens and peas you may have never tried before to new ways to enjoy roasted sweet potatoes and just-caught shrimp. Enjoy heart-healthy fats in nuts, olive oil and avocado. Enjoy fish at least twice a week for good health. Avoid foods with high levels of sodium and sugar.

R – Recognize barriers

It’s going to be tough to say ‘no’ to food favorites like fried chicken and chocolate ice cream. So, know your splurge foods and resolve to enjoy them in smaller quantities.

Challenges come in many forms. It might be a friend or a relative pushing you to eat another brownie. Here’s what you say, “I’d love the recipe! Thank you for offering.” Set your boundaries, and throw in a compliment. That’s showing them Southern grit with a little grace.

Busy lifestyles present barriers to eating right, too. Keep healthy snacks in the car such as easy-to-eat tangerines or packets of nuts. A small snack can tame your appetite so you don’t lose control and hit the nearest drive-thru.

E – Enjoy the taste of eating right

Feel free to add low-cal flavor with mustards, horseradish, vinegars, cocktail sauce and salsas. Some foods are friends in the weight loss war. Protein-packed cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, broth-based soups, veggies, fruit and whole grains fill you up without filling you out. Add a slice of lemon or a splash of cranberry juice to help you drink more water. Choose unsweetened tea but add a splash of sweet tea to enhance the taste.

S – Start new habits

Keep a list of what you’re eating and drinking for a few days. Be as specific as possible on types of foods and amounts. Use measuring cups to become familiar with portion sizes. This snapshot will help you keep track of overeating – and while you’re at it, write down your physical activity. Research shows dieters who keep a journal lose as much as three times more weight.

Resolve to slow down in the New Year. In a study of 3,000 people in Japan, those who reported regularly gulping down their meals until they felt full were three times more likely to be overweight. On the flip side, a diet study conducted at the University of Rhode Island found that women who slowed down when they ate not only enjoyed their food more but actually consumed 70 fewer calories per meal.

H – Have a plan

Start your day with a mission to be healthy. Eat breakfast. Schedule time to take a walk or go to an exercise or dance class. If Friday involves a big dinner party, eat less on Thursday and walk more on Saturday. Enjoy the Super Bowl party but go easy on the nachos and wings. Successful long-term weight control is a balancing act.

Yup, that takes willpower.

Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, a researcher at Florida State University, has shown through numerous studies that willpower isn’t a personality trait, skill, or virtue. It’s something that can be learned and even strengthened over time.

Cheers to a happy and healthy New Year!

Watermelon-Mint-Salad” by Ramnath Bhat is licensed under CC BY 2.0.