Make it a New Year, New You
Holiday indulgence inspires thoughts of personal change in the coming year. However, by the third week of January, as many as 80% of people have already set aside proclaimed New Year’s resolutions and returned to the same old habits they had hoped to change.
So often as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I hear clients say, “I wish I could exercise more, eat better and lose weight”. Although vague wishes are never enough, they can point you in the right direction. Lasting success in changing lifestyle habits requires additional steps. Begin with an effective goal planning process with clear direction on what, why and how you are going to change and follow with personal discipline to choose wisely every day. Wise choices, repeated every day with intention, add up to goal attainment, whereas un-wise choices, repeated every day, lead to failure over time.
EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING
Remember, we don’t plan t= fail; we fail to plan. To achieve a goal, you must define your goal using an effective goal planning process. Beyond simple wishes, goals are very specific measurable, attainable, realistic and time sensitive. Within this article, we will focus on the common goal to eat better.
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?
Within your defined goal, make sure it includes the word ‘will’. I will eat better is a much more powerful statement than I should… or I could… or I wish I would… eat better. Now that you have defined your goal, get more specific.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL?
Define why you set your goal in the first place. Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to live longer, do you want to travel the world, attend a reunion, run a marathon or avoid chronic diseases that run in your family? Understanding the ‘why’ is a powerful motivator to drive change.
HOW WILL YOU ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL?
Decide how you will eat better. Reflect on current habits to decide what needs to change. This section will become your roadmap to making wise choices every day. Remove obstacles that stand in your way and instead, surround yourself with foods that support your mission. Here are a few questions to get you started. Do you drink enough water each day? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? Do you eat enough protein and fiber at each meal? How much is enough? Are you avoiding fried foods, sweets and sugary drinks? Do you consume more calories than you use through exercise and activity? Are you sleeping well? How do you respond to stress? Do you skip some meals and overeat at others? Are you snacking too much or eating for reasons other than hunger? Do you want to cook more at home and eat out less? Are you planning menus with right-sized portions and balanced food groups? Are you stocking your refrigerator and freezer with frozen and refrigerated foods that will support your goal to eat better?
Keep a journal that clearly states your goal to eat better and how you plan to accomplish this goal. Then track your daily progress as you form your new habits. Consider working with an accountability partner. You may enlist the expertise of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or team up with a friend or loved one whose mindset aligns with your chosen path. Your commitment and dedication to follow-through on your plan is essential. Remember, it’s the small steps, repeated every day with intention, that add up to big results.
Some of our favorite frozen and refrigerated foods are highlighted below in the Sample Journal Entry. Use it as a guide to help you get started.
SAMPLE JOURNAL ENTRY
Describe personal lifestyle habits you would like to change, research and self-reflection in this section.
The typical American diet contains too much saturated fat, sodium and added sugars and too little fiber, potassium, and healthy oils.
Hmmm, that sounds like me.
90% of Americans do not eat enough vegetables (compared to the 2 – 4 cups/day recommended) and 80% under-consume fruit (compared to the 1 ½ – 2 ½ cups/day recommended).
Yep~I really need to eat more fruits and veggies too. Try this Sheet Pan Veggie Roast.
By 4pm, 80% of Americans still don’t know what they’re having for dinner.
I can totally relate. ~I need to get better at planning my meals and having the right foods on hand. Add this Chicken Tortilla Soup to your recipe repertoire.
1. MY PERSONAL GOAL: I will eat better this year.
How will I eat better?
I will eat at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables every day.
I will keep fruits and vegetables in my freezer to ensure I always have them available.
I will add 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach to my egg at breakfast and skip the toast.
I will combine vanilla yogurt or cottage cheese with frozen blueberries, raspberries, strawberries daily.
I will minimize added sugars, aiming for no more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) per day.
I will use minimal amounts of added fats overall and choose liquid avocado oil or olive oil most often.
I will choose leaner proteins: eggs (in-shell & hard-boiled), nonfat Greek yogurt, light string cheese,
skinless chicken, fish fillets and lean beef and right-sized portions of my favorite cheeses.
I will boost my fiber intake with more beans, peas, lentils, oats, and fruits & vegetables, aiming
for at least 21 – 25 grams of fiber per day.
I will keep frozen whole grain waffles and bananas on hand as a grab and go breakfast.
I will plan my meals and grocery shopping lists every week on Sunday mornings.
I will use frozen spiralized veggies, Buffalo or Kung Pao cauliflower or steam-in-the-bag veg as convenient
veggie side dishes. When I have extra time, I will oven-roast frozen veggies topped with Parmesan.
I will substitute frozen cauliflower crust pizza for take-out pizza at our next football party.
I will pack healthful, microwavable frozen lunch entrees instead of ordering out at work.
I will stock fresh, crisp apples in the refrigerator consistently for my nightly snack.
I will make overnight oats with frozen peaches or mangoes and cinnamon for busy mornings.
I will use frozen fish fillets to make fish tacos with fresh salsa on Taco Tuesday.
I will ask myself if I am hungry, bored, stressed, or thirsty before choosing to eat.
I will eat a frozen veggie burger with a salad on Meatless Monday.
2. MY PERSONAL GOAL: I will exercise more this year.
How will I exercise more?
I will complete (150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous) physical activity weekly.
I will do > 50 minutes of strength-training with my trainer at the gym 3 or more days/ week.
I will walk the dog 2 or more times a day.
I will walk with a friend outside or on my treadmill for 30 minutes twice a week at 8am.
3. MY PERSONAL GOAL: I will hydrate better this year.How will I hydrate better?
I will drink 48 to 64 ounces of filtered ice water, brewed hot tea or skim milk per day.
I will fill my 16-ounce steel-walled thermos 3 times per day to keep fluids nearby.
4. MY PERSONAL GOAL: I will track my progress in my journal or on my fitness device daily.
Now is the time to set and attain your lifestyle goals, it’s never too late! We would love to hear about the ways frozen and refrigerated foods fit into your healthful New Year’s resolutions. Share your #NewYearNewYou tips and ideas and tag us @EasyHomeMeals.
About the Author
Karen Buch, RDN, LDN is a central Pennsylvania-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with over 15 years of experience working in grocery retail. As Founder of Nutrition Connections LLC, Karen uses multi-media communications to help consumers make the connection between food, nutrition and health and provides consulting services to various clients within the food industry.