With a new year well under way, many people are trying to stay on track with their resolutions and goals for improving their health in 2018. While some may try to exercise more frequently or quit smoking or drinking, for many people, the simple commitment to eat healthier is their goal for 2018. It’s a great goal – but how do you achieve it?
Define What Healthier Means to You
Healthy eating can happen in many different ways. For some people, ditching the drive-thru for lunches on busy work or school days and packing a lunch of a simple sandwich and fruit instead may be a challenging goal. For others, healthy eating might mean removing all sugar and processed carbohydrates from their diets. And for some, choosing to focus on eating organic fruits and vegetables and locally sourced meat, dairy, and grains may be their healthy eating goal.
If you are struggling to define what healthy eating should be for you, your lifestyle, and any medical conditions you may deal with on a daily basis that impact your food choices, such as allergies or celiac disease, the MyPlate Daily Checklist is an excellent resource produced by the USDA to help people determine both their calorie needs and what amounts of different food groups and nutrients they need each day within their personalized calorie range.
Plan to Succeed
If you’ve decided to eat healthier in 2018, you are already on the road to better health through better food choices. But real success requires more than just an initial decision to change: it requires a plan. Taking a few minutes to create a meal plan for the week ahead will allow you to make sure the right foods are on your shopping list. Cleaning the pantry and refrigerator and replacing unhealthy choices with easy to grab and eat healthy snacks, fruits, and vegetables will remove temptation. Packing your lunch for work or school the night before or that morning will deter you from grabbing quick and easy – and usually less than nutritious – fast food at your lunch break.
Have a Backup Plan
As with any new change you are trying to implement in your life, there will be days when you don’t achieve your goal to eat healthier in 2018. For some people, a small setback such as enjoying a piece of your co-worker’s birthday cake or a late lunch grabbed from the nearest drive-thru on a busy day can lead to feelings of failure and giving up on their goal to eat healthier altogether. Understand that there will be days when your plans go awry, but as dietician and life coach Rebecca Scritchfield says in this article about New Year’s resolutions, “It’s not hopeless when you screw up…Ask yourself, ‘What is my recovery plan?’”
Choosing to eat healthier in 2018 is a doable goal once you define your healthy food needs and changes, make a plan, and make a backup plan. Bon appetit!