Sensible Eating in the New Year: Tips from a Dietitian

BIDMC Contributor

NOVEMBER 22, 2019

african american male and female shopping for healthy foodsThe New Year is fast approaching and many people vow to eat healthier and exercise once January 1st rolls around. But resolutions often fade a few months later. So how do we set ourselves up for lifelong sensible eating habits?

"Sensible eating is an effort to eat healthier by making small, manageable changes over time rather than making many big changes all at once," said Monica Garvey, RD, LDN, CNSC, a clinical dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "It doesn't have any strict diet plans or rigid menus like many fad diets. Instead, it's about letting people find uncomplicated strategies to eat well in a way that works with their lifestyle."

Garvey suggests trying these tips:

Start planning

Eating sensibly often starts with meal planning. Planning puts the power to make healthy choices in your hands. By planning meals and snacks ahead of time, people can avoid the bad choices that come with time limits and extreme hunger.

Try sitting down this weekend to plan out meals for the coming week. Include your family so everyone can practice making healthy decisions.

Flip through a cookbook or magazine to find new meals. You can also find healthy and delicious recipes and grocery shopping tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If finding recipes is difficult for you, there are also several companies that deliver healthy and unique meals right to your doorstep.

Watch your portions

Portion control is another way to improve eating habits. For example, try using smaller plates at meals, which simply cannot fit as much food on it as a larger plate. If you plan to eat a snack, put it into a small bowl rather than eating out of the bag. This way you can visualize exactly how much you will eat.

You can also pre-portion leftovers to take for lunch or sliced fruits and vegetables for snacks. Not only does this control the amount of food eaten, but it saves time during busy mornings and encourages having healthy options ready-to-go for you and your family.

Be a mindful eater

Mindful eating encourages people to focus on their experience with food while eating. Try eating slowly and taking the time to consider your body's response to different flavors, textures and smells during a meal. Listen to any cues your body may give you about hunger or feeling full. While eating, consider the process of how the food got to your plate starting from the farmer's field.

Bring healthy options

Life is full of cookouts, holidays, and other celebrations that are often filled with less healthy meal and snack options. Bring a healthy option to share, focusing on fruits and vegetables. It can help you achieve your nutrition goals while enjoying the festivities.

Keep changes manageable

The most powerful aspect of sensible eating is focusing on small changes. Making too many or drastic changes at once often leads to frustration and failure. Many of us can find a small way to improve if we take a good look at our eating habits. Try swapping out a donut for a slice of whole-wheat toast or eat an apple rather than a cookie. The list can go on and on, but focusing on one change at a time will help to make eating better more manageable and less frustrating.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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