Get a SMART Start to Your 2022 Nutrition Goals!

posted by Darlene DeWitt, MS, RD, LD on Friday, January 14, 2022

With a new year upon us, many people are trying to start fresh with healthier eating habits.  Unfortunately, often these habits don’t last, and by Valentine’s Day, well-intentioned new habits have bit the dust.

So, what are some ways to start that have a good chance of being sustained?  The key is to have a plan; being specific about your goals is important to help them last. Have you heard of SMART goals? These are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

So, instead of “ I am going to eat more vegetables,” try “ I will add a salad to my lunch meal on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by February first.”

The other thing that can help these habits stick around is to have family support or a buddy.  Support goes a long way to make sure we stick with a new goal, and knowing that what you do is affecting someone else can help you follow through.

Should you count calories or carbs?  There isn’t a one-size fits all approach.  Carbs have gotten a bad wrap, but they are important for energy and can be a part of a balanced diet.  Focus more on the quality of your carbs by choosing whole grains, fruits and low fat milk or yogurt. Counting calories works well for some people.  It can give you a goal or a target.  There are several smartphone apps like MyFitnessPal or Lose It that are based on having a calorie goal. You just have to remember to log your food as soon as you eat it, so you don’t forget.

For busy families, what are some tips for quick meals or advance prep to save time?

  • Making time to meal plan is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.  Then you have the foods on hand that you need to make easy and healthful dinners. 
  • You can try cutting up vegetables in advance for snacks and meals.
  • Cook once and eat twice.  Meaning, if you are roasting a chicken, make two.  Then the second one can be used to make a soup or put in tacos later in the week.
  • Seafood is actually some of the quickest cooking foods you can use.  Shrimp and tilapia are mild tasting and can be used in a variety of ways.
  • Try steamable bags of frozen vegetables, instant brown rice or pre-cut fruit if you are in a time crunch.

How important is what you drink?  Beverages can actually be more important.  It is easy to underestimate how many calories are in them, and you can gulp them down pretty quickly.  If you want proof, google “how many calories are in a grande mocha” and see what you find out.

Taking steps to better health are never in vain, and have lasting benefits when you keep them going.  Remember to have a plan, grab a buddy, be specific and prepare in advance for successful resolutions.

About The Author

Darlene DeWitt, MS, RD, LD

Darlene DeWitt is one of Spencer Hospital’s Registered Dietitians. Darlene currently provides outpatient services in the areas of Diabetes management, heart disease, weight loss, GI issues and other various health concerns.  She received her Master of Science degree in nutrition from C ... read more