Top 10 Diet and Nutrition Resolutions

The best ways to lose weight and eat healthfully in the new year

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It's resolution time again, and first on your list is to lose weight and eat more healthfully. But how exactly do you go about doing that -- and how do you keep yourself from becoming a resolution dropout once Feb. 1 rolls around?

To draw up a list of the absolute best diet and nutrition resolutions, I consulted weight loss experts around the country. Here are their suggestions for some tried-and-true -- and very doable -- behavior changes that will help you lose weight.

1. Stack the odds in your favor. We all have our own particular strengths and weaknesses. Washington Post columnist Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, advises playing up your strengths and making a plan to avoid getting sidetracked by your weaknesses. Don't simply wish you could do better this time -- take concrete steps to ensure that you do, says Tallmadge, author of Diet Simple. For example:

  • If you reach for high-calorie foods because they're convenient, make sure you have healthy alternatives available. Go grocery shopping at least weekly to stock up on wholesome foods. Keep a list so you have enough for the week.
  • If you're a social eater, plan non-food events with your friends. Take walks, go sightseeing, go to a movie or take a hike.

2. Get the rest you need. Susan Moores, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant from St. Paul, Minn., is excited about recent research on the hormonal effects that sleep deprivation can have on appetite. Hers is a resolution you don't see often -- and one most people will welcome hearing.

3. Give yourself permission to be human. Anne Fletcher, MS, RD, author of the Thin for Life books, suggests a resolution that allows you to slip up without going into a slide. People who lose weight and keep it off know how to pick themselves up after they slip. Gained some weight on vacation? No problem. Just get right back into healthy eating and exercise to lose the extra pounds.

4. List the eating and exercise habits you'd like to change, and select one to work on. Don't try to change a second habit until the first one has become a habit, says Boston-based nutrition consultant Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD. A list of habits is easier to tackle than sweeping resolutions, she says. "Resolutions imply major changes that appear doable and seem downright insurmountable by two to three weeks out, largely because most people are not ready to make a change but think they should because of the New Year," says Ward, author of Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids.

5. Choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables plus the brown of whole grains. Your diet should look like a rainbow with a complement of brown, says Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and the voice of the syndicated radio show Eating Right Minute.

6. Practice low-calorie evening relaxation traditions. Instead of an after-work cocktail, drink a "virgin Mary" in a wine glass after a long day, suggests Dawn Jackson, RD, a weight-loss dietitian at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Wellness Institute in Chicago. Or unwind with a hot cup of herbal or no-calorie flavored tea instead of reaching for sweets.

7. Aim for lighter forkfuls. Another suggestion from Jackson, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association: Putting less on each fork will help you eat more slowly. This, in turn, helps you enjoy your food more -- and, ultimately, to eat less.

8. Eat when you're eating. Try not to multitask (reading, watching television, answering emails, driving) while you eat, says Jackson. Instead, sit at a table and enjoy what you are eating.

9. Escape food cravings. When cravings strike, Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD, an Allure magazine columnist, suggests trying one of the following tricks:

  • Chew intensely flavored gum.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Drink a large glass of water or sugar-free soda, or a cup of tea.
  • Take a brisk, 5-minute walk.
  • Wait 20-30 minutes. If the craving persists, satisfy it with a small portion.

10. Stop eating before you're stuffed. The time to stop eating is when you reach "5" on a hunger scale of 1-10, where 1 is famished and 10 stuffed to the gills, suggests Ellie Krieger, MS, RD, author of the upcoming book Small Changes, Big Results. Pushing your plate away at a 5 is a natural way to control portions without measuring, and it helps you cue into your body's needs.

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