Drop the old-fashioned approaches and try a few of these new tactics on for size.
Dedicate time and space for meals.
Before you can make decisions about what to eat, it's important to provide yourself with the opportunity to eat. Just making time for meals and snacks can serve as a great starting point for reinventing your eating habits. Setting aside time to eat puts your body on a schedule, making you less likely to binge at 9 p.m. after a full day of healthy choices. Once you give yourself the time needed to incorporate foods into your day, you can then fill those opportunities with the right foods that will nourish you.
Set smaller goals.
When it comes to New Year's resolutions, we often think radically instead of realistically. Although it can be easy to think we need to change everything about the way we eat all at once, chances are you're already doing some things right. Overhauling your entire diet in one fell swoop will lead to feelings of deprivation and frustration, neither of which adds up to a healthy, long-term relationship with food. According to registered dietitian Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN of Lively Table, "Small changes add up to a big difference in the long run, and make weight loss much more sustainable than short-term diets."
Love your food.
Depriving yourself of the foods you love isn't a good strategy for weight loss. In fact, loving the food you eat is incredibly important if you want to be successful at achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Even foods that may offer little from a nutrient standpoint can offer other benefits, like enjoyment.
Although foods that only offer enjoyment shouldn't make up a significant portion of your meal plan, they should fit in somewhere to ensure you are happy with what you're eating. Kim Melton, RD, owner of NutritionPro Consulting, practices this herself. "I eat one small portion of something I enjoy almost every day and I don't feel guilty about it," she says. "I balance it out with an otherwise healthy diet. I love this because it works well for me and satisfies any cravings I might have."
Commit to trying a new recipe once a week.
Instead of looking for what foods you can take out of your meal plan, why not consider what foods you can add? Our food supply is incredibly diverse and the combinations in which we can enjoy nutrient-rich foods is practically endless. One way to discover some of these unique combinations is to practice cooking regularly with foods that offer nutritional benefits. Consider experimenting with a new recipe each week, or if you need a little extra help in the kitchen department, try signing up for a meal kit delivery service that features basic food groups in each box.
Make a fruit and vegetable bucket list.
If trying an entirely new recipe seems overwhelming, consider introducing one food at a time instead. Stefanie Dove, RDN, CDN encourages people of all ages to do this in her role as nutrition services communication specialist at Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia. "When you make eating fruits and vegetables fun, it's more likely you'll stick with a healthful lifestyle," she says. The bucket list also keeps healthy eating from being boring. Always eat a spinach salad for lunch? Try swapping your spinach for kale one week or topping it with avocado the next to keep your taste buds interested. You might just find your next favorite fruit or veggie.
Choose to move with joy.
Just like with food, if we don't like what we're doing to stay active, it probably won't become a lifelong habit. "Exercise is a huge part of weight loss, but it doesn't mean you have to spend hours at the gym," Nazima Qureshi, RD, CPT, of Nutrition by Nazima says. Instead, Qureshi recommends finding and choosing an activity you will enjoy, and consider mixing it up regularly to prevent boredom. "Whether it's hiking, swimming, yoga, kickboxing or anything else you enjoy, you are more likely to stick with it."
Finding the workout that works best for your body and your goals can take time, so don't get discouraged if your first attempt doesn't stick. While Pilates might work for some, high-intensity interval training works best for others. Don't feel pressure to go along with what's trending at the moment or the workout your friends or coworkers most enjoy, but rather try out a few different workouts until you find the one that makes you excited to exercise.
Think about what you drink.
Please, no detoxes this year, okay? Instead, simply focus on the important role proper hydration can play. Drinking water throughout the day will help your body work the way it should and can help keep your eating on track. Since thirst and hunger can often feel similar, it can be easy to drink too little and eat too much if you aren't staying adequately hydrated.
What you drink can also benefit your health in other ways if you get creative. Lindsey Pine MS, RDN, owner of TastyBalance Nutrition, recommends adding sliced fruits or herbs to a cold glass of water. Not only will it make the water more flavorful, but it also adds a subtle dose of extra nutrition in each glass.
Ditch the diets and focus on your internal cues.
Have you ever heard the saying, "We teach ourselves how to diet, not to eat?" It's true! People often spend much of their lives trying to manipulate the natural desire for food, instead of letting the body lead them to what they need.
Luckily, you can tune back into your body's internal cues of hunger and fullness. Research has indicated that taking a mindful approach toward eating can result in many positive benefits, including achieving a healthy weight. Mindful eating is not only important for understanding and appreciating food as fuel, but it will also allow your body time to evaluate whether you're actually hungry or just mindlessly munching on what's in front of you.
Commit to learning to embrace food in a new, healthy way by forgetting every fad diet or trend the internet or history swears is the magic trick. Adopting these simple changes will lead to a healthier attitude about how you eat for life.