The most commonly forged New Year's resolution is to lose weight. The resolution most often broken within weeks, if not days, is to lose weight.
Why the disconnect? While the experts know that success requires lifestyle changes, people routinely throw themselves into eating plans that are bland and extreme, leaving them feeling deprived and depressed. That leads to snacking, and not on celery sticks, either.
"The problem is that most individuals take this resolution too far and too fast, forcing themselves onto restrictive, extreme, intensive diets that they cannot possibly keep up with," says Joan Perlmutter, RD. LDN, CDOE, CVDOE, a registered dietitian at The Care New England Wellness Center. "Lifestyle changes, not a particular diet, is what works. It's these long-term behaviors that impact weight loss, not feeling deprived."
Perlmutter, who works with people as part of the Wellness Center's Healthy Steps supervised diet and exercise program, suggests a few simple but helpful tips for creating a healthy eating plan that is easy to follow in 2013:
- Assess your lifestyle and food choices. Keep track of what you eat and drink so you can see where behavior can be improved. "A planned weight loss needs to be something you can live with and is realistic. The key is balance," Perlmutter explains.
- Set a clear goal to lose weight but then break that goal into smaller, more measurable pieces. For example, pledge to lose one pound a week. Then outline clear steps to make that happen, like controlling portions using smaller plates and bowls, packing a lunch, or keeping unhealthy snacks out of the home.
- Evaluate your progress weekly and update your plan based on that progress.
- Be patient with yourself. Real change takes time, commitment and encouragement.
- Reward yourself with non-food items. "Change is hard and you should pat yourself on the back for your victories," she says.
A good place to start would be to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian like Perlmutter. Their skill and experience can help you develop a well-balanced eating plan.
"Registered dietitians are your best source of reliable and up-to-date food and nutrition information," she adds. "They can be an important addition to your support network."
If you're planning a meal plan change in 2013, it's also a good idea to keep your primary care provider informed, especially if you have other health issues that should be taken into consideration.
For more information on the Healthy Steps program or to contact a Wellness Center dietitian call 401-732-3066.
"Like millions of Americans, my New Year’s resolution was to lose weight.”