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Healthier Eating Resolutions for the New Year

Sweetness in Practice Contributor - Jan 22, 2015
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Nearly half of all U.S. adults make New Year’s resolutions, but few are able to stick to them (Norcross 1,2). In fact, University of Scranton researchers reported that about one-quarter of resolution makers throw in the towel in just a week, one-third give up within a month’s time and fewer than half of resolvers will make it to the six-month mark. Two years later, a scant 19% are still sticking with their resolutions (Norcross 2).

Despite what appears to be a lack of success at maintaining New Year’s resolutions, research also shows that people who make resolutions tied to the New Year are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals compared to those who don’t make any official New Year’s resolutions but do want to improve their habits. This means that making resolutions is a lot better than not making them, if your goal is to improve your lifestyle (Norcross 1,2).

Since losing weight and exercising more often are the two most common goals resolvers make, registered dietitians and nutritionists can use the five tips below to help consumers turn their healthier eating resolutions for the New Year into a reality.

Make “SMART” Resolutions

Many well-intentioned resolvers never have a chance at being successful because their goals are pie-in-the-sky, too vague or any other number of reasons that make them unattainable. Goals should align with the acronym SMART and be Specific, Measurable, And Realistic with a specific Timeframe for completion. An example of a smart resolution would be, “I’m going to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, at least five days a week for two months.”

Think Small to Get Big Results

It’s better to start with one or two simple diet substitutions that you can live with rather than trying to completely overhaul your lifestyle. Research also suggests that changing your food environment (i.e. what’s in your pantry; how food is organized in your refrigerator and what’s on your countertops) can help you achieve your goals (Neal).

For example, replacing table sugar and brown sugar in the cupboard with Truvía® Cane Sugar Blend and Truvía® Brown Sugar Blend will conveniently help reduce calories from sugar and brown sugar by 75% when used in baking your favorite treats—all without sacrificing the sweet taste you love. Similarly, carrying Truvía® Natural Sweetener in your purse or backpack when you are on-the-go provides a zero-calorie option for sweetening your coffee, tea, plain yogurt or cereal. Once you have accomplished some of the small goals, add on others. Before you know it, those small changes will equal big results.

Have Strategies to Handle Setbacks

Long-term success at losing weight or improving fitness is about making progress, not achieving perfection. In fact, trying to stick to an 80:20 approach, eating right 80 percent of the time and allowing for indulgences for 20 percent, is the best method for living lean for life. Everyone has setbacks, but those who get back on track quickly are more likely to meet their long-term goals than those who stay derailed longer. One study reported that more than half of successful resolvers had at least one diet digression. Over two years, those making resolutions have an average of 14 setbacks (Norcross 2). Those who are more flexible with their eating can more readily stick to eating right the majority of the time. Consider setbacks the optimal moments to reevaluate your goals and how you plan to achieve them.

Use Social Support

It’s hard to eat right when a spouse or friend may sabotage your best efforts. Having the support of others—at home, at work and with friends—has consistently been shown to help individuals improve their diet success. Sharing one’s goals with others can help resolvers reaffirm commitment, while also gaining the social support needed to achieve them.

Help Strengthen Willpower

The average person makes around 200 food-related decisions every day. One important factor that leads to achieving and maintaining healthier eating goals for the New Year is the willpower to make healthier choices, such as choosing a banana over a delicious looking brownie. A study conducted at Florida State University suggests that one’s willpower may be strengthened by keeping blood glucose levels stable, getting adequate sleep, avoiding alcohol and not skipping meals (Gailliot) but more research is needed.

Learn more, view recipes, and request Truvía® Natural Sweetener samples to share with your patients today. »


References:

  1. Norcross JC, Mrykalo, MS, Blagys, MD. Auld lang syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2002, 58(4): 397-405.

  2. Norcross JC, Vangarelli DJ. The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts. Journal of Substance Abuse. 1988-1989.1(2):127-34.

  3. Neal DT, Wood W, Wu M, Kurlander D. The pull of the past: when do habits persist despite conflict with motives? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2011. 37 (11): 1428.

  4. Gailliot MT, Baumeister RF. The physiology of willpower: linking blood glucose to self-control. Personality and Social Psychology Review. 2007. 11(4):303-27.