by Margaret Eich, MS, RDN
As we transition into 2018, it’s so tempting to make New Year’s resolutions that are sweeping and very non-specific, such as “I’m going to eat healthier” or “lose weight” or “be more organized.” Ultimately, these resolutions are well intentioned, but often we focus on overly lofty goals that are difficult to continue beyond a few months, and we are left feeling demoralized and disappointed that we weren’t able to stick to our resolution.
One way to get around this, in my opinion, is to think about our intentions for the New Year and then get really specific about the behaviors we need to implement to get there. For example, if your intention is to improve your diet to maximize fertility, then it’s important to look at your diet and decide what areas need improvement. Do I need to reduce my sugar intake? Increase my intake of vegetables in order to increase my nutrient/fiber/antioxidant intake? Eat more home cooked meals instead of eating out so frequently? Once you’ve decided the habits that need improvement, then it’s important to choose small, specific, and very doable changes that you feel you can make for the long-term. For example, if you decide to focus on increasing your vegetable intake, first assess your current vegetable intake. If you do that and find you’re eating about 1-2 servings of vegetables per day, the next logical step may be to set a goal of eating at least 3 servings of vegetables per day (1 serving = 1/2 cup) instead of jumping right to 5 servings per day, which may prove to be quite challenging. Then decide how you’re going to achieve that. Strategies you might find helpful include adding vegetables to smoothies, eggs, soups, and chili. Roast a large batch of vegetables every Sunday to eat for the first part of the week. Check out this previous blog post about ways to eat more greens. Once eating 3 servings per day becomes a habit, you can always increase to 4-5 servings per day.
The most important thing for your goal setting to help propel you forward and build your confidence instead of get discouraged, which is what can happen when we overcommit ourselves to too many goals and goals that are too difficult to fit into our already busy lives. Tiny Habits is a great a resource when you’re thinking about habit change for 2018 or anytime of the year.