I say this every year, but I can't believe that another year has begun. It's the time for us all to assess our goals from 2017 and set new intentions for 2018. When doing this, it's great to first honestly assess what worked and what didn't. Simply making the same resolution again and again won't result in achieving it. How many times have you said, "This is the year I will FINALLY [fill in the blank]?" How will this year be different?
I'm not a New Year's resolution maker or advocate. I prefer to continually assess my goals, achievements, failures and intentions. That said, January is as good a time as any to make lasting and meaningful changes to bring us closer to our goals.
So, here are my Top 5 Nutrition Hacks that you can start now. You can choose to tackle them one at a time or start all five today. Either way, you'll be happy you did.
1. Keep a Food Log for 3-5 Days.
[Get my Nutrition Energy food log
I know you've heard this before, but when is the last time you've done it? Writing down everything you eat and drink for 3 to 5 days can be enlightening, humbling and appalling all at once! [Ask Erica about the time she did this with me years ago. Hint: there were a lot of mini Cadbury Creme Eggs.]
I ask my clients to keep food logs when we first meet and periodically thereafter. They record: time of day, hunger before and after eating, foods eaten and any thoughts/feelings or comments around eating.
Nine times out of ten, my clients come in with great insight and suggestions for changes after completing this exercise.
You may find that:
- You haven't eaten a piece of fruit all week, or
- That you've ordered in take-out 3 out of 5 nights this week, or
- That you visit the office snack room way more often than you thought, or
- That you're eating way more food while you cook (or wait for) dinner than you thought.
Weight loss, sports performance and improving overall health are all achievable goals that require honest assessment, planning and perseverance. This is the assessment phase and it is absolutely imperative. You can use this log as you continue on with the remaining hacks.
2. Go for the Low Hanging Fruit. [Pun intended! Sorry, I could not resist.]
Do you have at least one bad nutrition habit that you're aware of that continually prevents you from reaching your goals? Most of us have at least one. Now's the time to finally rid yourself of that unwanted habit. Whether it's drinking a sugary coffee drink every morning or eating more nuts (or chips) than you intend to each night while watching TV, make today the day you change that habit.
Here's how to do it:
- Focus your attention on changing ONLY that one habit for the next 1-3 weeks.
- Write down your NEW habit everywhere you can (on your fridge, as an alert on your smartphone, on your Facebook page) and make it known.
- Your NEW habit should include what you WILL do instead of your old habit. Like, "I will drink tea with 2% milk instead of my usual chai latte-and save myself $5 and a few hundred calories daily."
I know you want to clean up your eating all at once. But think about it, how many times have you tried to change the same habit? if you invest 2-3 weeks to finally change this habit, and then move on to #3 or another habit, won't that be amazing? Yes, it will be. So, try it, and then please
or post on my
to let me know how it went.
3. Plan Your Produce Intake for the Week (at least one serving of produce with each meal and snack).
Let me explain. You know you should eat 2-3 servings of fruit and 4-5 servings of veggies daily, right? And you like fruits and veggies right? [If not, please stop reading
me IMMEDIATELY and I'll help find ways for you to enjoy some of each!]
So, what is preventing you from eating your delicious produce servings daily? In my 15 plus years as a Dietitian, I've found that planning and habituation play huge parts in making health changes last.
Planning your produce may sound strange, but will help tremendously. Once per week plan the fruits and veggies you'll eat and when (time of day and day of week) you'll eat them.
Planning at least one fruit or veg with each meal and snack, then make your shopping list. Bonus points: Go right to the store to make your purchases or use an online ordering system to ensure your produce is on its way.
After doing this for 2-3 weeks it will become a habit. In my house, we refer to foods in ways that I realize may sound strange to others. "Breakfast Fruits" are those we generally eat for breakfast at home because they don't transport well. When I ask my kids which "Lunch Veggies" they want this week, they know I mean things that will cut and travel well together in the reusable container we pack our veggies to-go in daily.
Bottom line: Make a plan for which fruits and veggies you'll routinely eat and when. Create some healthy produce habits and they'll stick!
4. Cut Corners Wisely.
We all wish we had more time and more money, right?! Since both are limited, we need to make careful and intelligent choices with both. Think about this as making some trade-offs.
I save money by cutting up melons myself, but sometimes buy pre-cut squash to save time. This means I'm more likely to cook the squash during my hectic evenings with my busy family of five.
Think in terms of some possible trade-offs:
- Which healthy foods will you eat more of by spending a bit more on (prepared) and which you can save on by preparing your own?
- Do you need to buy the fish already cooked or is it the veggies/side dishes?
- Would you be better off making and freezing turkey meatballs or another protein on the weekend to save time and then free up time to make more veggies Monday-Friday?
Working on these important trade-offs with clients makes all the difference in terms of their long-term success. Time and money are two major reason why resolutions/diets/goals fail.
5. Pack Snacks for the Week.
Think about it for a second. When do you generally choose a snack to eat? Once you are already starving and stuck at work? In the morning when you are rushing to get out the door? Have you ever tried packing them in advance? If you have, you know how well it works.
Here's what I propose. Take 15 minutes on Sunday night to think through the week, what you have in the house and what you might be in the mood for. Then get packing!
Here are some ideas:
- Pre-portion nuts and put them into small (ideally reusable) bags.
- Scoop hummus into individual containers and pair them with snack baggies full of pre-cut veggies.
- Pack healthy energy bars (with a short ingredient list) in your purse and gym bag "just in case".
- Portion out granola into snack bags and tape them to the top of yogurt containers in the fridge.
You get the idea. Put in a little time and effort and get great results.
Each of these "hacks" will make a difference. The more of them you can master, the better. Anyone can start or even follow a "diet" for some amount of time...then fall back into old habits. The goal is to make lasting changes that you can live with AND stick to.
You know what I love about these "hacks?" They're all doable! Lauren has offered one Skype nutritional counseling session to a lucky reader. This is a $245 value! It can be redeemed in person if you're in NYC. Otherwise, the winner has through 3/31/18 to schedule and redeem a session with Lauren.
Want to enter to win?
Please use the link to go to Erica's blog "
" and scroll to the bottom of the article, to enter through the the Rafflecopter (looks like the picture below).
The winner must be 18 years of age or older and the offer is void where prohibited. The giveaway runs through January 22. A winner will be selected and notified on January 23.