Keeping Resolutions: Stop, Drop, and Control Your Diet

Keeping Resolutions: Stop, Drop, and Control Your Diet

This article was written by Marianne Smith-Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President, Nutrition & Food Safety, and was published by Supermarket Guru in January 2014. It has been updated and adapted, looking ahead to the new year!

Flash forward to mid-January. It’s still cold and dark, and there are less twinkly lights. You’re a week or two into a resolution. When you look back at this season, will you feel overwhelmed with the memory of overindulgence? Or left out because you didn’t get to enjoy the food and drink as much as others? Will you feel like you’re soldiering onwards in your resolution, or like you want to give up?

How do we best keep control of our eating habits during this time?  Regardless of any one resolution now, or at a specific time of year, we need to reflect on steps to accomplish our goals and the potential barriers that may stand in the way. Personal control certainly plays a role in this scenario.weight-control-hurdles-weight-loss

According to the IFIC Foundation Eating and Drinking Occasion research conducted last year, the average American has 5.7 consumption occasions per day. Surprisingly, the weight status of an individual was inversely related to the number of times they ate each day. Perhaps it’s not about how often we eat, but the quantity and selection of our food- two factors that we can usually control! According to the IFIC Foundation 2013 Food & Health Survey, 90 percent of Americans believe it’s possible to have control over their level of physical activity, the healthfulness of their diet, and their weight, yet far fewer are actually taking that control. Yet only 65 percent are actually trying to take that same amount of control in their own lives—a 25-point gap!

This gap indicates that there are barriers preventing people from taking more control of their physical activity, diet, and weight. A lack of willpower (64 percent), the dislike of exercise (60 percent), the perceived high cost of healthful food (54 percent), and slow progress (51 percent) are barriers that prevent Americans from taking greater control over their weight. How best to counter the barriers? Let’s step back from the holiday frenzy and see how we can close that gap.

The IFIC Foundation survey results validate what we see on a daily basis with the people around us. Honestly, we have far more control than we realize- so take control!

First and foremost, don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Studies over the years validate that one of the most tried and true weight control measurement is eating breakfast every day!  Oatmeal, cereal with milk, yogurt, or a scrambled egg sandwich are some quick and easy solutions. Skipping a meal to save calories will result in more calories consumed later in the day. Other practical tips to keep your willpower in-check during the holiday festivities include:

reach-your-diet-goalsLimit yourself to one serving. Have a little bit of everything but don't go back for seconds! Moving away from the table helps curb temptation.

Seek out veggies first. So many good meats, cheeses, and dips are often put out at family gatherings that it’s easy to forget about vegetables. You can still indulge and use veggies as the “chip” for dips.

Make your calories count! Always ask yourself, “Is it worth the calories and the minutes of exercise to balance it?” before you put it in your mouth. For me, coconut cream pie is a “yes” but cake just doesn’t cut it.

Slow yourself down. During parties, talk more to leave less time for eating, think more to pay attention to your fullness, and chew more to help slow you down and ultimately reduce your consumption. Plus, there’s the added bonus of more time spent savoring grandma’s cooking).

Keep activity in your daily routine. Walk up escalators, find the parking space with the most steps to the store, and plan active family games after a meal.

Remember, you can take (and have) control! There is no law that says resolutions can begin only on January 1.  As you contemplate what your New Year’s resolutions are going to be, why not get a head start on implementation and build in some check-points during the year.

Small changes to your diet or exercise routine can be made at any time, even during the remaining holidays!