By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC
For many of us, ringing in the new year brings a new commitment to improve our lives with resolutions to make positive changes.
Diet resolutions are among the most popular. Fitness centers fill up, and restaurants sell more salads. TV shopping channels hawk diet supplements, exercise equipment and lots of Spandex active wear.
But often, even the most enthusiastic plans to “finally lose weight this year” fade by the time Super Bowl snacks appear.
In one survey, 45 percent of those who set New Year’s resolutions had broken them before Feb. 1.
Dietitians who specialize in adult weight management say that New Year’s diet resolutions are often too broad and unrealistic — such as “I’ll never eat ice cream again!” or “I’ll cook at home every night.”
It turns out that to lose big, you have to think small by setting specific goals.
Dietitian Marisa Moore, president of the Georgia Dietetic Association, said, “Instead of trying to do everything all at once with overly aggressive New Year’s resolutions, resolve to take a one-week-at-a-time approach to healthy eating. Each week start a new behavior like using smaller plates, cutting back on soda, or trying a new fruit or vegetable. This keeps you focused on implementing positive behaviors throughout the year, not just in January. By the time 2011 rolls in, you’ll have 52 new and healthy behaviors.”
Those small changes can lead to big rewards. Cutting back on just 100 calories (or burning an extra 100 calories) a day can result in a 10-pound weight loss in a year.
Fresh start, smart advice
You don’t have to go it alone. Meagan Moyer, dietitian with the Emory Bariatric Center, said she’s heard from a lot of folks that they are ready to get back to the basics regarding their weight- loss programs.
“People are being more frugal with their money and are more willing to invest in proven methods of weight loss versus a fad diet that may or may not work. Using a registered dietitian to help guide you though weight loss is a sure bet. It may cost more outright, but the long-term gains are priceless.”
Some of the nutrition lessons registered dietitians might offer their clients who want to eat more healthfully and shed unwanted pounds:
● Recent research suggests that just 27 percent of adults get the recommended daily three servings of vegetables. Moore advises boosting veggie intake when dining out: “Opt for the roasted beet appetizer, add broccoli and mushrooms to your pasta dish or request grilled asparagus as a side to your entree.”
● Keep your quest for healthy eating exciting by trying new and healthy cuisines. Among others, Japanese, Indian, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines all offer lots of healthy options.
● Keep an eye on portion size when dining out. If they’re huge, ask the server to put half in a takeout container before it comes to the table. You won’t be tempted to eat the whole thing.
● Look at restaurant menus online to make a plan before you go. Dietitian Janet Helm, author of nutritionunplugged.com, said, “I almost always order fish when I eat out because I tend not to make it as often at home. I looked for grilled fish with a side of vegetables. Soup is a great starter, takes a little more time to eat and it’s filling, so I won’t be so ravenous when the entree arrives.”
● Let go of the guilt. Having dessert or a piece of bread won’t ruin your diet. It’s what you do on a regular basis that determines your overall health. Banish the guilt and balance the occasional indulgence with a healthy diet daily.
Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and co-author of “The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org