With the confetti barely cleared from the streets and 2015 a not-so-distant memory, millions of people turn their thoughts to something else every January 1: New Year’s resolutions.
If your goals for the year ahead include eating better, you’re not alone. In fact, losing weight and getting fit; eating healthier and dieting, and drinking less are all among the most commonly made — and commonly broken — resolutions, according to Time Magazine.
As with many things in life, the hardest part can be getting started, which is why we’ve rounded up these six tips to help you get your healthy eating plans underway.
1. Write it Down
Did you know that the mere act of writing down your goal actually increases your chances of reaching it? But we don’t mean grabbing the nearest piece of paper and writing “eat better” on it.
Rather, take time to set a firm goal, such as projected weight loss, planned dietary changes, and your starting date.,/p>
While you’re at it, write down the reasons why eating right made the list this year. If you find yourself going off track, reviewing this document offers a path to understanding and recovery.
2. Start Small
While the “cold turkey” approach works for some, it’s ill-advised by nutritionists and weight loss experts alike. Why?
Because simultaneously cutting out sugar, fat and other dietary culprits can be impossible to sustain over time.
Instead of setting yourself up for one big failure, set yourself up for many successes by starting small and building from there. Begin with one vegetarian meal a week or by substituting fresh fruit for your usual mid-afternoon vending machine run.
These small changes not only add up, but can also set the foundation for bigger successes down the road.
Think of it this way: If your goal was to run a marathon by this time next year, would you start your training with the full 26.2
3. Keep Track
Monitoring your progress is a critical part of goal attainment. Set aside time each week to assess the challenges you faced during that time.
Perhaps you didn’t manage to squeeze in your planned five servings each of fruits and vegetables, or you didn’t make your water intake goals.
In some cases, it’s a simple fix: perhaps you need to set your alarm 15 minutes earlier in the morning to pack a healthy lunch, or skip “Happy Hour” free appetizer Friday with your coworkers for something less dangerous.
In other cases, you may need to reset an unexpectedly unattainable goal. In both situations, if you don’t stop to keep track, you risk losing site of both progress and opportunities for improvement.
4. Buddy Up
Going it alone can be a struggle — particularly if you’re part of a household of unhealthy eaters. Discuss your goals with you family and enlist them in helping you reach them.
This is not just an opportunity to make healthy change in your own life, but also in the lives of your loved ones.
However, keep in mind that the decision to make a lifestyle change has to come from within.
If others don’t immediately climb on board with your plans, that’s okay. They may find their own inspiration in watching you work hard, succeed and feel great in the process.
5. Factor in Failure
Mistakes are a fact of life. Despite your best efforts otherwise, you will on occasion slide into bad habits. Don’t let one mistake derail days, weeks or months worth of hard work.
Instead, use that mistake as a learning experience by considering where and why you went wrong.
Perhaps you’re a stress eater, or maybe you fell victim to Aunt Martha’s relentless insistence that you have another piece of her famous lasagna or pie. Understanding these triggers is the first step toward avoiding them in the future.
6. Know the Basics
Whether you’re aiming for weight loss or simply want to feel better, the basics of nutrition are the same: a plant-based diet featuring plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes is widely accepted as a healthy approach.
Drink plenty of water, minimize your intake of red meat and trans fats, and avoid processed foods whenever possible.
But also remember: moderation is key. Eating healthy doesn’t mean foregoing you favorite foods forever, but it does mean making a commitment to lifestyle change.
Unfortunately, the majority of New Year’s resolutions are ill-fated: a whopping 92 percent of resolution-makers will have failed by the time the ball drops the following New Year’s Eve.
Incorporating these six tips and techniques, however, can help you end up in that lucky (and well-deserving!) eight percent.