By KELLY MARSTELLER
The Holidays are here, and 2012 is quickly coming to an end. It’s time to start thinking about what your New Year’s resolution will be.
The most popular resolution among people is to become healthier. Many vow to change their eating habits in their efforts to shed those extra pounds, lower their cholesterol or lower their blood pressure.
Often, the general “get healthy” resolution is short-lived, and before you know it, you’re back to your old ways.
But now is the time to start really committing to your resolution.
Here are some tips to stick to your resolution and truly become a healthier individual by changing your eating habits.
— When it comes to a New Year’s resolution, make it as specific as you can. If you would like to become healthier, start by figuring out what you think “healthy” means. To you, being healthier might mean losing weight by eating more vegetables, eating less red meat, or getting rid of the donuts for breakfast.
— After deciding what change to make, the next step is to specifically state what you are going to do to follow through with the resolution. For instance, if you decided to eat more vegetables, commit to eating 5 servings of vegetables per day. If you are a sucker for those donuts and Danishes for breakfast, commit to one donut allowance per week or eliminate donuts entirely.
— Next, make sure that your goal is realistic. Setting a goal to eat 8 servings of vegetables per day might be unrealistic, especially if your idea of a vegetable is potato chips. Committing to eating 3 servings of vegetables might be a more realistic goal. Once that goal is met, commit to increasing to 4 servings per day.
If you have a sweet tooth, cutting out sweets entirely might not be realistic for you. Try picking two specific days a week to allow yourself one serving of your favorite sweet treat.
— Setting deadlines will help you stick to your resolution. Losing 50 pounds is a great New Year’s resolution; however, losing 50 pounds in one month is neither realistic nor healthy. Be sure to set smaller goals as stepping stones to reach your ultimate goal. If you’d like to lose 50 pounds in one year, losing 4 pounds per month is a great small goal to work toward.
— Be sure to have support when trying to stick to a New Year’s resolution. Support might come from anyone, such as a friend, spouse, family member, professional or even a specific support group. If someone is aware of your goals, they will most likely be supportive and help you stay on track, especially during the times when you’re struggling. It also helps if you know someone who has the same resolution because you can push and support each other.
The most important thing you can do to help you stick to your resolution is track your progress. If you keep a record of the foods you eat, the exercise you get, and the changes in your weight, you are more likely to stick to your resolution. Tracking your food and exercise helps create awareness of the number of calories you are actually eating and the amount of exercise you are doing.
If your ultimate goal is weight loss, tracking your calories is key. The amount of calories you consume day to day determines weight change. A registered dietitian can provide you with the appropriate number of calories for you to meet your goals.
Kelly Marsteller is a clinical outpatient dietitian at Memorial Hospital. Healthy Helpings is a column written by nutritionists in York and Adams counties.