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Nutrition Goal Setting in 2020

By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

The New Year always feels like a fresh start, and it’s a time of transition where it makes sense to reflect on the previous year and set goals for the coming year. New Year’s resolutions around health and fitness tend to get a bad rap, because people often have a hard time following through on these resolutions. One reason for this is that these resolutions tend to be too hard or are too vague.

One thing that I think is really helpful is to be very specific about what we want to achieve. Sometimes we make very non-specific goals such as “lose weight,” or “eat healthier,” or  “be more organized.” (No judgment here, as I am definitely guilty of this.) It’s important to be specific with your goals, so you know when you have achieved them. The other big piece of this is breaking down the goal into the habits that you need to incorporate into your life in order to achieve those goals.  It’s our daily habits that really determine whether or not we meet the goals we set out to achieve. Follow these tips when thinking about goal setting in 2020:

1) Be specific about the goal. Instead of “get healthier,” or “lose weight,” try “sleep for at least 8 hours 5 nights out of the week,” or “exercise for 30 minutes 5 days per week.” Being really specific helps you stay on track and know when you’re making progress towards your goal and when you need to tweak your habits to make progress.

2) Break the goal down logistically. If your goal is to sleep 8 hours per night, then what do you need to do to make that happen? Maybe you need to be in bed by 10 pm, so that means you need to get help from a partner in making sure to get all of your obligations done earlier, so that you have some time to wind down and be ready to sleep at 10 pm. It also might mean prepping breakfast and lunch the night before, so that you don’t have to get up as early to do it.

Weight loss is a common goal, so if that is your goal, it’s important to think about the habits that you need to cultivate to meet your goal. Some examples of habits you might choose to work on over the course of they year might be: fill half my plate with non-starchy vegetables at lunch and dinner. Eat protein with all my meals and snacks. Bring healthy snacks to work, so that I’m less tempted by office treats and so that I don’t arrive home overly hungry looking to raid the fridge. (We’ve all been there!) Eat mindfully – put away the phone, turn off the TV, and move away from your computer in order to truly experience my food. These habits are likely too much to work on all at once, but having a list of 1-2 habits to work on at a time will help you start to make progress toward your goal.

3) Prepare, prepare, prepare. When changing your eating habits, it’s important to think back on what has worked well for you in the past and what hasn’t. This can help set you up for success by not repeating the same things that have tripped you up in the past.

In addition, think about the challenges you’ve had in the past – social gatherings, eating out, family meals, travel? Spend some time thinking about your unique challenges, and map out a plan ahead of time. It’s really hard to navigate challenging situations when we haven’t prepared ahead of time. Things don’t always go according to plan, but you have a better chance of eating in a way that makes you feel good if you plan ahead.

4) Don’t be afraid to change course. Be gentle with yourself in assessing what’s working and what’s not working. You may start out with specific habits you’re working on, and they may turn out to be too hard based on the current season of your life. That’s ok. Reassess, change or scale back the habits and keep going. It can be really tempting to fall into all-or-nothing thinking, in which if we have a rough day or week, we completely abandon the goal. Our progress is determined by what we do most of the time, not by what we do sometimes. The important part is to get back on track and keep going.

Need some help navigating changes to your eating habits and lifestyle to support your fertility or pregnancy in 2020? Make a nutrition appointment today!  Get started and save with our monthly special today!

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