How to Make Healthy New Year's Resolutions

For many people, the start of a New Year brings the feeling of a brand new opportunity; but for many others, it can trigger anxiety. Alongside pressure from the media, and companies who use the opportunity to advertise weight loss products, it can easily lead to thinking that we must ‘change our ways’ which can feel impossible to get away from or say no to.

Whilst many people take the opportunity to focus on removing foods from the diet at this time of year, this is not necessary. Restriction ultimately creates an unhealthy relationship with food, which could in turn increase the risk of disordered eating.

Change your vocabulary

Instead of using the phrase ‘resolution setting’ try to use the phrase ‘goal setting’ as the problem with setting resolutions is that the majority fail within the first few weeks because there is no specific plan on how to achieve them. The key is to plan what specific changes will help to achieve your aim. 

It can feel overwhelming knowing where to start, however, focusing on the fundamentals is key. For example: 

  • Aiming to consume a balanced diet (carbs, protein and fibre at each meal/snack)Including some form of movement within your day to keep active
  • Drink more water (can be flavoured - choose sugar free/caffeine free ideally
  • Having adequate sleep and relaxation to reduce the risk of stress

All four of these habits are closely interlinked and will have a positive long-term effect on overall health. Being active can also help to improve sleep quality whilst a balanced diet gives the body energy that acts as its fuel.

Focus on the journey rather than the destination; meaning creating healthy rituals, will eventually get the results that you desire.

SMART goals

Decide how often you will review your progress; every week, every month or every quarter? Reviewing your progress will allow you to acknowledge and celebrate successes, and (if needed) adapt the plan accordingly to allow continual progression. 

Say NO to restrictive diets

Be cautious of any diet that:

  • Promotes a restriction or complete removal of a whole food group
  • Focuses on weight loss only without mentioning health
  • Says it works well for everyone and does not take into account the individual⁣⁣
  • Claims that a rapid amount of weight loss will be achieved in a short period
  • Any products/ plans that include words or phrases such as ‘fat burning’ ‘superfoods’ or ‘detox’.

Think critically: “Is this information coming from a trusted and qualified source (e.g.. a dietitian or registered nutritionist)?” or ⁣” Could I maintain this way of eating in the long term?⁣”.

Remember to include a little of what you love. Make a pact to not label any food as ‘off limits’ and instead, concentrate on what you can add, instead of remove, from your diet. There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food, everything depends on the amount eaten.

Happy New Year and good luck with your health goals!

By Nichola Ludlam-Raine, Specialist Dietitian at Ramsay Health Care

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