If eating healthier is one of your top new year priorities, that’s great. But “I’m going to eat healthier this year” is one of those well intentioned, but too-hard-to-define goals that isn’t nearly as easy done as said. (That’s one reason it’s so damn hard to keep resolutions.) So if the big idea is healthier eating, you’ll have better success if you break it down in to bite-sized mini-goals like these healthy eating tips we’ve gathered from registered dietitians.
The one-little-thing-at-a-time approach can be used for any number of new year’s resolutions—or anytime resolutions—you make. The truth is, when you set one big giant goal, it can be hard to know where to start and easy to lose your momentum. But if you set smaller goals to reach along the way, you’re making progress and meeting mini-milestones as you go. And we all know little feels quite as good as checking something off your to-do list.
Want to get fit? Start with a weekly fitness plan to put you on the right track and give you specific workouts to crush at the gym (no more wandering aimlessly from machine to machine). Determined to actually get eight hours of sleep a night? Start by tackling the surprising sleep mistake that’s making you so darn tired all the time. And as for that healthy eating goal? Tricks like eating veggies with breakfast and snacking on two pieces of fruit everyday are super simple ways to upgrade the eating habits you already have. These tips are so easy to follow, you’ll have no problem getting your new habits to stick.
Read on for some of the smartest, easiest ways to make every day healthier—and tastier, too. Here are nine healthy eating tips registered dietitians swear by.
1. Reduce your sugar intake, little by little.
“Cutting back on sugar is a gradual process and doesn’t happen overnight, but once you start to cut back on it, you’ll realize you don’t need as much of it as you once thought. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. One easy thing I like to do to cut is use Truvia Nectar, because it has 50 percent fewer calories than sugar. I put it in my Greek yogurt, tea, or anything else I usually put honey, sugar, or agave in.”
— Chelsea Elkin, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.
2. Add veggies to breakfast time.
“One health-protective habit I often recommend is aim to fill half of every mealtime plate or bowl with non-starchy veggies. For most people (including me!), that’s easier to do for lunch and dinner than for breakfast. So, my eating resolution this year is to include veggies in one way or another at every breakfast. I see plenty of non-traditional breakfasts in the future!”
— Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook
3. Save booze for the weekend.
“Not only does alcohol intake add empty calories to the diet, but it can lead to poor diet and fitness decisions the following day. My rule of thumb: Skip out on the alcohol during the week and save that special glass of wine for weekend activities.”
— Nora Minno, R.D., C.P.T., an NYC-based registered dietitian and personal trainer
4. Practice mindful eating.
“A big goal of mine for the new year is to eat more mindfully. The last couple of months have been super-hectic and I have found myself rushing through meals more than usual. [This year], I want to take more time to taste and appreciate everything that I put in my mouth. Food is such a delightful sensory experience, and a privilege! Furthermore, there’s evidence to suggest that practicing mindful eating may assist with portion control, weight management, and possibly even digestion, which are all important factors for long term health.”
— Edwina Clark, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly
5. Incorporate more probiotics and prebiotics into your diet.
“This is an emerging area of science that were are going to be hearing more and more about. Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut. The best choices are: bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, and whole-wheat breads. Probiotics are active cultures that help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. Consuming probiotics may boost immunity and improve overall GI health and the best sources are yogurts, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. Having a combination of prebiotics and probiotics in our diets can be a very powerful step to improving our overall health.”
— Laura Manning, R.D., clinical nutrition coordinator in the department of gastroenterology at The Mount Sinai Hospital
6. Finally get into meal prep—seriously, it’s a game changer.
“A weekly meal plan can help you eat better, save money, and time during the week. I really like this type of resolution because it is positive, no restriction, doesn’t involve dieting.”
— Rebecca Clyde, M.S., R.D.N., C.D., blogger at Nourish Nutrition
7. Eat two pieces of fruit a day.
“Even though I know as a nutrition expert how healthy fruit is, I don’t eat enough of it in the winter months. (That’s a hard confession to make!) This year I am going to really attempt to eat two pieces of fruit per day. With oranges, clementines, pears, and apples galore it shouldn’t be so hard, and I can always get my fill of berries as long as I am willing to pay more for them. I will include one piece with my lunch and one piece as part of my daily afternoon snack.”
— Keri Gans, M.S. R.D., author of The Small Change Diet
8. Eat out less often.
“Around the holidays, people eat out a lot at restaurants or other people’s homes. When you’re not cooking, you have less control over what you’re actually eating, and all of these celebrations can unintentionally lead to consuming extra fat, salt, and sugar. I usually recommend making January a cook-at-home month. Make a weekly meal plan, and focus on lighter, seasonal comfort fare like bean soups and roasted vegetables.”
— Maxine Yeung, M.S., R.D., owner of The Wellness Whisk
9. Stock your pantry with fewer sweets (which is not the same as cutting out sweets for good, by the way).
“Resolving to never eat a sweet again takes a lot of effort and can create a feeling of deprivation. A more realistic resolution would be to create an environment in which you can consume fewer sweets without having to rely solely on your willpower. Research shows that when sweets are within arm’s reach or even within our sight, we are much more likely to consume them than if we have to go out to the store to buy them.”
— Patricia Bannan, M.S., R.D.N., author of Eat Right When The Time Is Right
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