By Julie Stefanski MEd, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CDE

If you’re someone that likes to make lists, you may already have an inventory of changes you’re going to make in the new year.

We’re curious though, how did your resolutions for this year turn out?

A big round of applause if you followed through and made changes to improve your health.  For many of you though, thoughts didn’t turn into actions or perhaps those new choices didn’t stuck around past March.

Whether it was losing weight, stopping smoking, or even getting a new job, why didn’t you reach your goals?  To help you out, we turned to health and nutrition experts for the best ways to improve your success in getting healthier during 2019.

“Ditch the vague resolutions of ‘lose weight’ or ‘save money,’” recommends Lindsey McCoy, RD, CSSD. “Instead, start thinking on the small scale; so small you might almost think ‘why bother?’ Because our health is a reflection of the small choices we make every single day, ask yourself ‘What step can I take within the next 48 hours?’ Drinking just one extra glass of water a day adds up to almost half a gallon at the end of the week. Likewise, walking an extra lap around your office building at lunch could add up to 2-3 miles. These small choices amount to a big impact on your health.”

Set Yourself Up for Success

Zach Cordell, MS, RDN suggests focusing on where the change is most sustainable, “Examine how your faith and culture influences your dietary behaviors, for good or bad.  If you have Sunday dinner with your family after church and you’re choosing to stay away from all fried foods, and that’s all your family serves that may be harder to keep. On the flip side if you have friends at work that bring healthy foods for lunch, then that may be an easier place to start changing your eating habits. Make sure that your environment and culture is on your side.

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Most nutrition experts would agree that trying to make too many changes all at once may not be the best approach for long lasting change.  Dietitian Jeannette Kimszal RDN, NLC, who was inspired by the book The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, suggests focusing on just one thing until it’s mastered.  Jeannette explained, “The combination of small daily habits with ONE clear cut goal will propel you forward. Whether you are looking to make more money, improve your health, or spend more time with your family, using this combination of practices will give you success to attain what you want to achieve. Don’t write a resolution, instead pick ONE thing to focus on and learn how to break down the barriers with smaller steps.”

What Foods Should I Include?

While we’ve all heard the term super foods, not all of the trendy foods on social media actually offer significant health benefits.  When you specialize in being on top of nutrition research, you do find out though that there are a few foods that are recommended by major health organizations far more often than others.

Both Registered Dietitian Dianne Helinski and Mary Purdy, MS, RDN targeted affordable and healthy legumes as their number one addition for 2019 menus.  Mary elaborated, “Add in one extra serving of beans every week. Whether it’s hummus, lentil soup or a black bean burrito, these nutritional gems fill you up, offer a host of nutrients to support heart health and weight maintenance and have the added benefit of being a little gentler on our environment!

Another food that is often singled out in recommendations by international heart health and diabetes experts is fish.  Despite the extensive research showing benefits on fertility, brain health, blood pressure and many other health issues, most Americans fall short on including this beneficial food.  Jennifer Hunt, RDN, LD agrees.  “Consider setting a goal to eat fish or seafood 2 (or more!) times per week. A large majority of us don’t eat the recommended 2 servings a week and are missing out on some yummy food and beneficial nutrients. Seafood is a great source of quality protein. Many types of seafood, especially fatty fish give our bodies essential nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and important minerals such as zinc.”

Hire the Best Candidate For Your Team in 2019

If you follow nutrition trends, consider working with a registered dietitian to navigate the research and implement the plan that actually has positive results to back it up.

One trend that may have benefits is time-restricted eating. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD shared how she uses this strategy with her clients, “Restricting food intake to a 10 or 12-hour period is very helpful for some people and may reduce feelings of deprivation. Many people have trouble with overeating after dinner, so it may benefit them to stop eating by 7 PM every night and not eat again until 7 AM. I suggest a balanced diet during the day, but to stop eating for a 12-hour period to reduce extra calorie intake.”

Doctor In Consultation With Female Patient In Office

Kristin Willard, RDN, CDG agrees that while trends can be incorporated into client goals, the focus should eventually turn towards something sustainable.  Kristin explained, “While low carb diets and very low calorie diets will help you lose weight at first, once you veer from it, the weight will probably come back on and possibly more.  If you are considering diet changes in the new year to support your health, I suggest focusing on a diet that you can stick with in the long term.” Kristin often recommends a Mediterranean diet approach for flexibility and flavor with added health benefits.

Make Your Schedule Work for You

After working with thousands of clients over the years, many dietitians would agree that there’s one missing piece in many failed health endeavors.  Whether it’s regular grocery shopping, meal prep or according to registered dietitian Ginger Hultin, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, consistent exercise, try scheduling these vital components.  “Get organized by plugging your workouts into your calendar ahead of time. Plan workouts weekly or monthly to make them a priority in your schedule. Thinking ahead helps you visualize how your schedule needs to flex to make fitness fit into your life.”

Allegra Gast, RDN, IBCLC reminds us though that nutrition and diet is a lifestyle and not a temporary quick fix.  “Making small habitual changes is a great first step. For example, adding one extra vegetable in your meals or starting to carry a hydro flask around with you, will help encourage a lifestyle change.”

While 2020 will be here before we know it, we hope you can look back on 2019 and finally say, “I did it!”

Many of our experts touched on the concept of moving away from strict diets and focusing on long lasting habit change.  You can find out more about this approach in our courses that focus on the non-diet method.  The goal of these courses is to provide the information healthcare professionals and fitness experts need to shift from a traditional weight-centric model to a health-promoting weight-neutral model, also known as a nondiet approach.

A Nondiet Approach to Health and Wellness

A Nondiet Health & Wellness Plan for Teens