So here we are … it's almost the end of the first week in January. This time of year, my office generally fills with people complaining about how they "overdid it" during the holidays and about how awful they feel, both physically and emotionally. This syndrome can be avoided though, with the right frame of mind and without being doomed to deprivation.
There's no doubt that the holiday season could be challenging for anyone wanting to maintain weight, let alone drop a few pounds. But that doesn't mean that healthy habits have to hibernate for the winter. This is a perfect time of year to set tangible goals that are easy to attain as opposed to reaching for something unrealistic. A new year pairs perfectly with new beginnings and a new attitude, so here are a few tips to help you get, and stay, on track:
• Make a list of five of your worst eating habits, and try to improve upon one each month. If you accomplish one goal, move onto another, but don't try to "fix" everything at once. If you feel overwhelmed, it will be difficult to keep up a positive approach.
• Don't try any diet that emphasizes one particular food or food group. A "no this" or "only that" diet is a setup for failure. The goal of a successful diet should include diversity, not deprivation. A varied, balanced plan can help you enjoy what you eat and appreciate what you look like the whole year through.
• Focus on clean eating, not cleansing. Juice-only diets and plans that involve nutritionally inadequate concoctions could definitely induce rapid weight loss, but there's a good chance that a quick weight gain will not be far behind.
• Try to lose or maintain—and not gain—weight. Don't attempt to "lose 20 pounds by summer." Even if you maintain your present weight, you'll be in better shape than if you lose weight through an unhealthy plan and then gain it all back, plus some.
• Have fun with winter sports. Whether it's going for a brisk walk or shoveling snow, you can warm up outdoors by being active. Dress appropriately and bring a buddy so that you can both benefit from the experience. A good conversation can be a great distraction from chilly temperatures.
There are some resolutions that are fun to make and keep. For example, I'm shooting for spicing up my new year! Although I love to cook and bake, I have a tendency to just rely on my favorite seasonings and spices. But there is a world of flavors out there that I want to experiment with for fun and for good health. Did you know cinnamon can reduce blood sugar levels, oregano can limit bacterial growth, and ginger can ease sore muscles? Why not toss the salt in the salt shaker, and refill it with a blend of herbs and spices to jazz up your 2013?
The bottom line is that a resolution should be about something that you could and would do, not something that you should do. What could you do to improve your eating habits in this new year?
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Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, has been owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC, for more than three decades and she is the author of Read It Before You Eat It. As a renowned motivational speaker, author, media personality, and award-winning dietitian, Taub-Dix has found a way to communicate how to make sense of science. Her website is BetterThanDieting.com.