2018 came and went, wow, that was fast! And, again it’s that time of year to set your New Year’s Resolutions. You might be telling yourself this year will be focused on healthy eating or exercising, and if you are, that’s a positive direction to start with. However, for a lot of people, excitement can lead to quick unrealistic changes that may set you up for failure. What we want to create is a new lifestyle, one that you can sustain throughout 2019 and into 2020, helping you maintain all these fantastic changes and contributing positively to your health.
Here are some tips to help you with setting healthy eating goals for 2019:
- Set SMART goals.
Start by setting small achievable changes. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. An example of a SMART goal would be: “I will drink 2 litres of water daily and I will do that by filling up a 1 litre bottle twice daily; I will track my water intake on a food journal to stay consistent”. Trying to be as specific as possible about how you will achieve that goal and how you will make sure you stay consistent increases your chances of adhering to it in the long term.
- Focus on foods to include, not foods to restrict
Healthy eating goals often tend to be negative. Instead, focus on the specific foods you would like to eat more often. You will notice the healthier foods will start to crowd out the less nutritious choices. For example, if you would like to eat more vegetables, plan your meals around these foods. Look for new recipes to try. Fill half your plate with vegetables first, and then add in the protein and grain foods.
- Be mindful
Focus on your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Ask yourself if you are eating out of physical hunger or emotional hunger (stress, boredom, and others). Keeping a food journal for a few weeks may help you to pay attention to your eating habits. Jot down the time you eat, the location, what foods you ate, and a few comments about your level of hunger or fullness. If you notice some less than healthy trends, plan to make some changes.
- Rid yourself of the “all or nothing” thinking:
Overeating one day won’t “ruin” your healthy eating. In fact, it is healthy to include “treats” in moderation. If you over-indulge at a meal, put it behind you. Return to your usual eating plan the next day without guilt or despair. Aim to eat healthy balanced meals 80% of the time. Not only is this realistic, but it allows room for flexibility and occasional indulgences.
- Eat regularly
Try to include 3 balanced meals and 1-2 snacks in your day so that you eat about every four hours. If you skip meals or snacks and get too hungry, you are more likely to over-indulge and less likely to stick to your healthy eating goals! To keep you feeling full until your next meal or snack, be sure to include high fibre foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Plan ahead.
Whether you plan 1-2 days or a full week in advance, meal planning is key to helping you enjoy nutritious meals. Make it a family event – sit down together and plan what you’d like to eat for the next few days. Create a grocery shopping list as you go. Save even more time by intentionally prepping or cooking more than you need. When cutting up veggies for tonight’s salad, slice up extra carrots and bell peppers for tomorrow’s packed lunches. If you’re grilling chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner, cook extra to use in burrito bowls tomorrow.
- Chew your foods well!
Sit down at meal and snack times instead of eating at your desk, in front of the TV, or on the go. Chew your foods well and take around 20-30 minutes to finish a meal. It takes that long for your brain to get the signals that you have eaten and that can help prevent over-eating. It also allows adequate time to relax, chat with your family or coworkers, and enjoy the flavours of your food.
- Focus on small changes
Small changes go a long way, it just takes patience and persistence and you will get there! Set small goals – once you achieve one, you will feel motivated to work towards another. Start with simple goals such as “I will buy/try whole wheat pasta”, and move on to others such as “I will pack my lunch the night before”, or “I will eat one leafy green vegetable every day”. Change can be a cycle of ups and downs so don’t be hard on yourself when you slip-up, but get back on track right away.
Hannah Deacon, B.Sc., RD, PTS, Certified Craving Change Facilitator
Nutrition Tour Leader, Edmonton (Londonderry & 50th Street Market)
My name is Hannah Deacon; I am a Registered Dietitian and a Personal Training Specialist. I’m also a Certified Craving Change Facilitator, a certification that I completed to better understand Emotional Eating and work with people who struggle with it mainly in my private practice. I am passionate about helping people develop a healthy relationship with food. In my field, my passion mainly lies in the areas of weight-loss, sports nutrition and diabetes. I love working with Save-On-Foods as a tour leader because it helps me spread the word about healthy eating to people from all age groups! Kindergarten to adults!