A New Year, A New You: Registered Dietitian Nutritionists Share Their Top Health Tips

Jesus Figueroa

Many people view the start of a new year as an opportunity to accomplish big goals: losing 20 pounds, running a marathon or hitting the gym every day at dawn. 

Such lofty goals, especially without a game plan on how to accomplish them, often fade from memory by spring.

National Spokespeople for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourage their clients to keep three ideas in mind when creating New Year's resolutions for 2019: "Create an action plan. Pace yourself. Stay positive."

Create an action plan
"Create personal goals based on what actionable steps you can take to meet them," Debbie Petitpain, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charleston, S.C., said. "Set an actionable goal of exercising three times a week and eating a piece of fruit after dinner instead of a piece of cake. Decide ahead of time of what success looks like to you. Otherwise, how will you know when you've achieved it?"
Pinpoint the reasons for your New Year's resolutions, Malina Linkas Malkani, an RDN in New York City, said, "Is your ultimate goal to feel better so you can be more present for your children? If so, it's not the number on the scale but how you feel after making lifestyle changes. The more mindful your approach, the more likely you are to stick with a healthier lifestyle long-term."
Consider holding off on lifestyle changes until mid-January to avoid stress, Libby Mills, an RDN in Philadelphia, said, "Give yourself time to create a regular schedule so you can slowly incorporate healthy lifestyle changes as you go along."
Pace yourself
"Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to improving your health," Angel Planells, an RDN in Seattle, said. "Start with a small change and build from there. You can start with something as simple as eating an extra serving of a fruit or vegetable per day."
"Focus on creating a lifestyle change instead of resolving to a short term, quick-fix diet," Rahaf Al Bochi, an RDN in Atlanta, said. "Fad diets are not sustainable and may result in disordered eating and unhealthy relationships with food. Instead, focus on healthful foods you can add to your diet instead of foods you want to remove."
Stay positive
Do what makes you happy, Cordialis Msora-Kasago, an RD in Los Angeles, said. "There is no sense in adding tofu and kale to your plate in the name of good health if they make your tummy churn. Eat nutritious foods you like, and choose physical activities you love. You'll have more success maintaining your healthier lifestyle if you are enjoying yourself."
Don't give up, Sandra Arevalo, an RDN in New York City, said, "Every new day is a new opportunity to focus on your goals and appreciate your achievements."
All Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokespeople said: Spend time with people who share your desire to become healthier. Positivity will inspire you to stay on track.

For a more personalized approach to meeting your nutritional goals, Academy Spokespeople recommend consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist. 

To find an RDN in your area, visit eatright.org/find-an-expert.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatright.org.

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