Five tips to meet your New Year’s resolution ideas for 2022
While many of us choose certain diets for weight loss, a 2021 survey found that fewer of us are simply focusing on looking better.
Instead, we’re more interested in long-term health, which includes increased energy and reduced risk of future chronic illnesses.
The “d” word – as in food – may eventually be dead in water.
For most people – including many of my patients and myself – losing the diet mindset wasn’t easy, but the act of doing so was essential to change and long-term success.
Before becoming a dietitian who helps patients, I has been the patient.
My teenage years were spent in a perpetual state of diet, overeating and obesity.
I had spent many early days of a new year determined to finally change, only to finally fail in March.
Then one day, when my pediatrician realized that I was only a few digits away from a diagnosis of diabetes, I was referred to a dietitian.
After a 30-minute discussion, I was asked to eat less overall and to increase fruits and vegetables (foods that at the time I didn’t like to eat).
I was sent outside with a piece of paper describing a 1200 calorie diet not at all suited to who I was or the environment I lived in.
I spent the next 10 years realizing that focusing on health ultimately led to better weight – and I made it my profession.
Here are five real ways I’ve learned to use food to develop healthier habits – and which I’m now sharing with my patients:
1. Determine the why
As an obese teenager, my “why” never seemed to take me across the finish line.
It was always about putting on size 6 jeans or having the same flat stomach as the other girls I was friends with.
My vanity “whys” weren’t enough to bring about long-term change.
I tucked into the size 6 pants and then I started eating again.
However, my understanding of diabetes and the consequences of the diagnosis ultimately led me to adopt healthier habits.
I tell my patients that they need to list three whys – why they want to lose weight or change their diet – and only one of them may be related to appearance.
Do you want to get down and play with your grandchildren? Do you want to live longer than your parents?
Think about it. Write it down, share it with someone you love, then start making it happen.
2. Define the “perfect” diet for you
The Perfect Diet exists, but it looks different to everyone.
Despite these differences, the goal remains the same: sustainability.
Achieving long-term success in developing healthier eating habits depends on your food preferences and your environment.
Are you struggling with sugar addiction but living with someone who keeps a lot at home? Your chances of success will most likely decrease.
Want to go vegan but dislike most plant proteins? You will probably have a hard time.
Even your choice of who you follow on social media can have an impact.
A 2020 study in the journal Appetite have found that people tend to follow the eating habits of their peers on social media, even if it is done unconsciously.
To define your ideal diet, analyze your surroundings and assess what is possible, define your food preferences and access to certain foods, and examine the eating habits that you had to successfully maintain in the past.
3. Eat until you feel full – not full.
I remember doing everything I could to control the size of my portions.
I used precision measuring cups and counted every pretzel I put in my hand for a snack. It did not work. I still ate too much.
The reasons why I did it (and you too) are complex, but they boil down to several things: eating while distracted, eating too fast, eating low-nutrient foods, or just not stopping because that the food tastes good.
The solution to most of these challenges is to find foods that make you feel full (think fat, fiber, and protein) and eat until you’re not hungry anymore, not full.
Eating until you are full is equivalent to keeping the nozzle in the gas tank while the gas is flowing over your feet.
If you focus on slowing down (for example, putting your fork down between bites) and losing distractions (turning off the TV and silencing your phone), you can develop more mindful eating behaviors.
Studies also show that managing stress and getting enough sleep can also help assess hunger and fullness.
4. Fuel up for better emotional health
We often learn very early in life that food can be soothing or rewarding.
Do you ever remember falling off your bike and running your mom out with a large bowl of steamed broccoli for pain relief?
Ice cream, chocolate, and pizza are often the mental health remedies that put a smile on your face – and then you might have taken that lesson as an adult.
It took me 20 years to realize that eating more plants made me happier and healthier – and that eating sugar and refined carbs ultimately made me feel worse.
A decade of data in nutritional psychiatry has confirmed this.
Data show that the diet most strongly correlated with reduced depression and anxiety scores is the Mediterranean diet (abundant in extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains intact. and limited in sugar and refined grains).
5. If you fall from the wagon (and you will), get up and continue.
In my more than 20 years in the healthcare industry, one thing is certain: falling off the wagon of healthy habits is inevitable.
I was guilty of falling – and staying on the ground – for far too many years. The shame of not being able to change held me back.
No one is perfect, and sometimes allowing indulgences isn’t what ultimately impacts overall health.
It’s when you have a cookie, that you feel bad about the choice and that you respond by finishing the whole box.
It’s important to realize that you will most likely have times when you overeat the wrong foods – so take advantage, move on, and keep going.
You are not weak, you are human.
You are not weak, you are human
Food plays a huge role in health, but before we can determine the right foods to eat, we need to figure out everything that has an impact on our eating habits.
I ended up losing over 23kg which ultimately improved my overall metabolic profile.
I’ve found success in health, not the ladder – and in the end, that’s what matters most.
Start being healthy today.
January 1, after all, is just a number on a calendar.