If you’re one of the many people who’ve set a goal to eat healthier in the new year, you’re probably getting a lot of advice. Maybe your doctor suggested that you eat more fruits and vegetables, or someone at the gym might have told you about a new fad diet to try. But about the the nutritionists? Since they spend all year thinking about healthy eating, we asked some of our favorite dietitians to share their top secrets for kickstarting a healthy 2018.
Jason Lau, MS, RD, CDN
When it comes to healthy-eating resolutions, I’ve always encouraged my clients and friends to start small. One small change I’ve incorporated in recent years is to always have a tub of Greek yogurt in my fridge at home and at work. It is one of the most versatile ingredients you can find in your pantry — it makes a great breakfast or snack, and it can also be used as a substitute for more calorie-dense ingredients like mayonnaise. Not to mention, it’s a good source of lean protein. (Follow Jason at @JasonLauRD.)
Minerva Huang, MS, RD, CDN, CNSC, Clinical Dietitian
I try to maximize my nutrient intake by eating plenty of vegetables and fruits rich in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants; choosing proteins with iron; and eating beneficial fats, like nuts, avocados and fish. I try to eat mindfully, paying attention to my hunger/satiety cues so that I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I choose water over other beverages, and then when I have a hankering for something sweet, just a few sips does the trick. Sometimes, however, I want something indulgent. In these instances, I enjoy it without remorse, and then I return to how I usually eat.
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC, Founder of Jessica Cording Nutrition
Getting a handle on stress is key to starting the New Year on a healthy note for me, so I make yoga a priority to help me feel centered. If I’ve been traveling, I like to have groceries delivered when I return so I don’t have to worry about fitting in a grocery store trip amidst all the other back-to-reality chores like laundry and email catch-up. The time and sanity I save are totally worth the delivery cost!
If you want to get healthier in the new year, start by ditching the diet mentality. When you start to restrict types and amounts of food, your body switches into survival mode, which can mean uncontrollable cravings, overeating and binges. Resolve not to participate in body bashing or diet-related conversations and extend this to your social media accounts too. Unfollow, unsubscribe and stop looking at accounts that tout diets, dieting behaviors, cleanses, extreme workouts and the like. Instead, start following social accounts that share body-positive, anti-diet messages that empower you. And learn more about intuitive eating by tuning into your body’s hunger and fullness signals, and use these signals as a cue for when to begin and end eating. Over time this will naturally help you to eat what you need.
Trinh Le, MPH, RDN, Nutrition Manager at Zipongo and Blogger at Fearless Food RD
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, don’t bite off more than you can chew! Commit to one realistic goal and work your way up from there. If you want to improve your eating habits, think of a small action you can do consistently like packing a salad every day for lunch or making a homemade meal at least twice a week. Once you’ve mastered this, tackle another goal. Success more often comes from small, consistent actions rather than the occasional grand gesture.
Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN, Owner of Culinary Nutrition Cuisine
It’s not surprising that most resolutions focus on diet and exercise. To help start you off, here are my top two tried-and-true tips to eat healthy in the New Year. First, cook ahead! Making a large pot of whole grains once a week and cutting up a bunch of vegetables to add to meals or simply to snack on saves time and keeps healthy foods on hand. This also includes pre-making lunches and snacks and bringing them with you to work and school. My second tip is to find a friend who wants to stay healthy in the New Year too and help keep each other motivated.
Stacie Hassing, RDN, LD, Co-Founder of The Real Food Dietitians
Meal prep is key! Dedicate time on the weekend to prepping foods for the week ahead. Having a fridge full of ready-to-eat, wholesome foods will help you make the healthy choice the easy choice, especially on those weeknights when time is not in your favor. If meal prepping overwhelms you and you’re not sure where to even begin, keep it simple. Start with just five items such as a soup or casserole that you can reheat, hard boiled eggs, energy bites, roasted veggies that you can add to eggs or serve as a side, and a couple of protein options like chicken or turkey burgers.
Kelli Shallal MPH, RD, Blogger at Hungry Hobby
Do you know the saying, “failing to plan is like planning to fail”? Meal planning is key! You might know what to eat but don’t follow through. That’s where a great meal plan is the best-kept healthy-eating secret! Fill your meal plan with at least one new recipe, a bunch of quick and easy standbys and enough variety to make you happy!
Alina Zolotareva, RDN, Marketing Manager and Registered Dietitian at AeroFarms
Of all the healthy eating advice floating around, the best I can give is something I am actively working on in my own life, even as a nutrition expert. Beyond a balanced diet and active lifestyle, my biggest priority for 2018 is to slow down and truly practice mindful eating. It’s not always going to be possible to find time to get to a farmers market, cook a perfect meal or put in a good workout. Nevertheless, all of us can find time at least once per day to sit down and attentively enjoy the food in front of us. We live in an increasingly distracted, disconnected world, so mindful eating is the single best way to reconnect with our body’s hunger signals. It can improve digestion, energy levels and weight management. Best of all, it’s free, easy and available to everyone.
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Blogger at crystalkarges.com
Rediscover the pleasurable aspect of eating. Take the time to be intentional about what you are eating and choose those foods that bring you satisfaction and joy. Creating a lifestyle that is built on a peaceful relationship with food will allow you to experience health in its truest form.