Three Tips for Making Your Resolution Last Past January

On a recent trip to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, I read a fascinating fact about food. Human beings in America make on average 200 food decisions each day. Mustard or mayo, 6 crackers or 12, each of these choices impacts total caloric intake, as well as a plethora of other forces that determine your overall health.

As the New Year begins, so too does the season of resolutions and goals. When you consider how many different times each day we are called on to make good choices with regard to food, it is no wonder that most resolutions fall flat very quickly. I mean, who could expect you to make 200 great choices each day for more than a few weeks? The intent of this piece is not to make you throw in the towel, but rather to help you rethink how you can change your diet for the better and for good.

Focusing your 2013 diet goals on three main areas may make this year’s resolutions the ones that last a lifetime. Consider your consciousness surrounding your food choices, your accountability throughout the day, and your ability to prioritize your nutrition needs.

Conscious or mindful eating is a skill that few adults possess. Did you know that eating 4 fries from your child’s meal 3 times per week can add up to almost 2 pounds of weight gain a year or 20 pounds by the time your child turns 11 years old? Think about all of the times during the day that you walk through the kitchen or the break room and grab something to eat. It may be a handful of pretzels, 4 Peanut M&M’s, or just one piece of licorice. Whatever the case may be, you were likely not hungry for that specific food, and it certainly did not satisfy you in any way. In fact, it probably left you feeling hungrier than before you ate it.

Make it a rule to only eat food when you are conscious of the choices you are making. The easiest way to accomplish this is to create a quick checklist that you run through in your mind before eating. For example:

1) Am I really hungry?
2) Am I going to be happy I ate this in 2 hours?
3) Is this going to do anything good for my body?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then proceed and enjoy without regret. You will be amazed at the number of choices you end up changing by having this simple checklist in your toolbox.

Accountability is what drives the world. Creating a system of checks and balances can keep you feeling safe and on track. In today’s world, this can be as simple as downloading a free app for your smartphone. A surplus of health and fitness apps exists that will help you track your daily intake, including water drinking and exercise. My favorites are MyNetDiary and FitnessPal. If a smartphone app is not for you, something as simple as a small notebook can help you.

Lastly, don’t be ashamed to prioritize your nutrition needs. Plan for exercise time, write down a week of dinner ideas to make shopping easier, and go online to review restaurant menus before dining out. Ask your server to prepare foods with your needs in mind. The 30 minutes it takes to fit in a workout or plan a week of meals is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your family. Make a list of roadblocks that have prevented you from obtaining your nutrition goals in the past, and then systematically break them down to create a clear path for success. 2013 can be the year that has you feeling great long past February 1st!