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5 Tips for Making 2019 your Healthiest Year yet

Happy and Healthy New Year

It’s time to reset, not regret! Here are five of my top tips for getting back on track and making 2019 your happiest and healthiest year yet!

1. Take this opportunity to look forward and not backward.

Don’t let all your progress on your road to better health—and a better you—be sabotaged by negativity or a lack of motivation. It is perfectly reasonable to anticipate potentially challenging events or situations, but a solid game plan can make all the difference on the outcome.

2. Focus on DO instead of DON’T, SHOULD vs SHOULDN’T.

This mindset applies to how we go about our daily routine but definitely extends to your food and meal choices—i.e. be more mindful of what you should be eating MORE of and not as concerned with what foods you should be limiting or even avoiding. The former takes precedent and should make the latter inconsequential.

3. Set Goals, Not Resolutions.

If you find yourself recycling the same resolutions year after year, turn the resolutions into goals that are simple, specific, realistic, achievable, and sustainable.

For example: Your goal is to eat/make dinner at home at least X days a week. You then review both your personal and your family’s schedule and you decide which nights work best. You create your shopping list based on the meals you plan to cook, and set aside time to do as much meal prep in advance for those specific days. You can even make extra so that any leftovers can be frozen and can be recycled into additional meals you can eat at home or work. Limit your goals to no more than a couple at a time. You can always set new ones!

4. Prioritize developing healthy eating habits.

Healthy eating habits are much more effective and longer-lasting than any ‘diet’, which is only a temporary ‘fix’. In the case of weight loss, it’s the healthy habits, woven into a wholesome eating style (not the dieting!), that ultimately lead to better health. Changing your ‘diet’ mentality is one of the most important steps to nixing the unhealthy habit of labeling foods as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Your eating experience should be pleasurable and one that fosters and nurtures a positive relationship with food.

5. Change your food/eating environmen– both at work and at home.

Overhauling your surroundings can help you get back on track, and can also increase your chances of staying on track. This single strategy provides the greatest impact and ensures the best outcome for the long term. The key is to create an environment where essentially all the ‘defaults’ are healthy – ‘out of sight, out of mind’ truly works!

An important first step would be to clear out your kitchen and remove all the foods that you deem unworthy of eating (for both yourself and your family), as you simultaneously fill your kitchen with healthy and delicious foods. When the inevitable  ‘triggering’ events—such as life stressors—emerge, you and your family members will be surrounded by great-tasting, ‘good-for-you’ food choices.

It’s just as essential to customize your food environment at work to one that helps you make better meal decisions and food choices. ‘Brown-bagging’ your lunch and keeping an assorted stash of ‘go-to’ snacks/beverages on hand can help take ‘the edge’ off your hunger and keep you from stepping on one of the several food ‘landmines’ that override even the most resolute willpower, especially when work stress takes its toll.

BONUS TIP

One of the most important things to remember as you start this new year is that good health is not an ‘all or none’ proposition. It’s this mindset that likely triggered the cycle of overeating or mindless eating—both eventually leading to weight gain or another lapse in health. Focus on creating an eating style, a fitness routine, and a stress management strategy that work for you, as well as developing a healthy relationship with both your mind and body. Treat yourself with the same unconditional love, respect, and compassion that you demonstrate towards those you hold nearest to your heart. You deserve—at the very least—the same special treatment.

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Mary Paley

Fearless Dietitian; 30+ years as a professional dietitian; Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at the MGH Institute of Health Professions; Lead research dietitian for several major pharmaceutical companies; Currently focused on health and wellness and the benefits of ketogenic diets for both obesity and diabetes management. MS, RDN, CDE, LD/N

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