Eat Well to Be Well: Five nutrition resolutions for 2015

Each new year around 45 percent of us declare some type of resolution, hoping to make a change in our lives. Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or eat healthier food?

If so, you’re not alone. For 2014, losing weight was the most common resolution made among Americans. Unfortunately, only eight percent of us are successful at achieving those goals we set for ourselves. Even with the best of intentions, life seems to get in the way and we lose sight of the goal we were trying to achieve.

Making dietary changes can be tough. There are numerous psychological and emotional reasons why we choose to eat what we do without realizing it. If you have previously remained unsuccessful in achieving your weight loss resolutions, maybe you were trying to accomplish too much at once. In essence, we’re “biting off more than we can chew” and that can be the downfall in keeping our resolutions.

This year choose just one of the following five nutrition resolutions. Focusing on only one of these subtle goals will point you in the right direction of healthy eating, triggering weight loss and taking steps toward a healthier you in 2015.

Five Nutrition Resolutions

1. Begin every day with breakfast. Breakfast is essential to health and weight loss. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is the largest prospective investigation of long-term weight loss maintenance. Since 1994, the NWCR has tracked more than 10,000 individuals who have lost weight, and one of the secrets of people with sustained weight loss success is breakfast consumption. A majority of those weight loss individuals – 78 percent – report eating breakfast every day and the vast majority – 90 percent – eat breakfast at least five days a week. Eating breakfast helps avoid the mid-morning slump, which prevents you from seeking out foods high in calories, fat and or sugar later in the day. Studies have shown that regular breakfast eaters also exercise routinely and have a lower overall fat intake. Fortunately, breakfast food can be simple. Suggestions for a nutritious breakfast include oatmeal with fruit, yogurt with granola, peanut butter with a sliced banana on whole wheat toast, or a breakfast smoothie – frozen berries, milk or yogurt, and orange juice.

2. Replace sugary drinks with water. One of the major contributors to the obesity epidemic is sugary drinks. Sugary drinks include soft drinks, fruit punch, lemonade and other “ades,” sweetened powdered drinks, and sports and energy drinks. The average 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar and about 240 calories. One in four Americans consumes at least 200 calories from a sugary drink each day. When you drink your calories in the form of a beverage, it doesn’t give the same feeling of fullness or satisfaction as eating food does. Additionally, the sweet-tasting liquid may actually increase your appetite to eat other sweet foods, leading to increased weight gain. Consuming just one or two sugary drinks a day can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, having a heart attack, and developing gout by 26 percent, 20 percent and 75 percent respectively. Next time you’re feeling thirsty, reach for water instead. If you need extra flavor, add sliced lemons or limes to sweeten the taste.

3. Add a fruit or vegetable at each meal. According to the 2013 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, adults in the United States consume fruit only 1.1 times daily and vegetables 1.6 times each day. Eating more fruits and vegetables can be a critical step in reducing your risk for chronic diseases. These plant-based foods are rich in numerous vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, all critical in protecting against diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke. Fruits and vegetables high fiber content fills you up, helping to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes. Their rich potassium content may help lower blood pressure, decrease development of kidney stones and decrease bone loss. These foods have a low calorie content and little to no fat, helping to lower your overall calorie intake. In addition, fruits and vegetables have no cholesterol and minimal sodium, but are high in vitamin C and folate. The amount of fruits and vegetables you need depends on your age, gender and activity level. The website choosemyplate.gov provides recommended daily amounts to help you on your path to better health. Begin adding just one fruit and or vegetable to each meal (fresh, frozen or canned) and your body will thank you for it.

4. Eat friendly fats. Many people have a tendency to think all fats in food are bad, but that’s just not the case. Fats are a necessary nutrient. They provide energy and are our body’s chief form of stored energy, provide essential fatty acids, insulation, help absorb our fat-soluble vitamins, and stimulate our appetite by making foods smell and taste wonderful. That being said, the type of fat you choose is important. Bad fats include saturated and trans fats which can raise cholesterol and your risk for heart disease, while good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, and they do just the opposite. Foods containing saturated (bad) fats are high-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork), chicken with the skin, whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream), butter, cheese, ice cream and palm and coconut oil. Trans fats are found in commercially-baked pastries and doughnuts, microwave popcorn, stick margarine and many fried foods. Good fats (mono- and polyunsaturated) are found in oils such as olive, canola, peanut, sunflower, soybean, corn and safflower, also avocados, walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, fatty fish (tuna, salmon, sardines), peanut butter, and seeds such as sunflower, sesame and pumpkin. Include more of the good types of fat in your daily meals, remembering to keep the portion size small as all foods containing fat have more calories.

2015-ewtbw-resolutionsright5. Seek nutritional advice from a registered dietitian. If you’ve had a knee replacement and need therapy, you go to a physical therapist. If you’ve had a stroke and need help with your speech, you go to a speech pathologist. If you need a prescription filled, you go to a pharmacist. If you need advice on improving your eating habits, look no further than a registered dietitian (RD). RDs have at least a 4-year degree in some aspect of human nutrition, pass a national exam to become registered, and complete continuing education requirements to maintain registration. They are uniquely qualified to give personally tailored advice in helping to manage a chronic disease by creating an eating plan specific for your condition. They also can provide guidance on navigating food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, and can develop a safe, effective weight loss plan that involves learning strategies to help with meal planning, grocery shopping and mindful eating. Many people claim to know how to help you lose weight or cure your diabetes, cancer or other disease by selling you various drinks or supplements. This year, seek out an experienced professional for your nutritional needs, a registered dietitian. Learn more about RDs at eatright.org. Better knowledge of your health and wellness maintenance will not only benefit your body in 2015, but for all the new years to come.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Agriculture, choosemyplate.gov, Harvard School of Public Health, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Illustration adapted from choosemyplate.gov.


Cheryl_Mussatto_pictureCheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian who works as an adjunct professor at Allen Community College, where she teaches the course Basic Nutrition. She is also a certified health and wellness coach. She writes Eat Well to Be Well, a column about health and nutrition, and may be contacted at [email protected].


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