On the Table

On the Table: Set yourself up for healthy-diet success

Contributing CorrespondentDecember 31, 2013 

Simple strategies can make it much easier to put New Year health resolutions into place and sustain them all year long.

For starters, make sure your environment at home supports your goals. Where diet is concerned, that means increasing opportunities to choose well and minimizing temptations that derail good intentions.

Do that in a number of ways, including these:

• Go on permanent pantry patrol. Weed out foods you aren’t going to eat and appliances you haven’t used in years. Pare it down to just the essentials to minimize clutter and make it easier to find what you need.

Then make sure what you stock is what you want to eat. Good choices include canned and dried beans, oatmeal, whole grain breakfast cereals, rice, whole-wheat pasta, dried fruits and other minimally processed staples.

Repeat periodically to prevent pantry creep.

• Accentuate the positive. Keep an abundance of citrus fruit in the kitchen where it’s visible and easy to reach for an orange. Maintain a big bowl of other fresh fruits – apples, bananas, pears – on the counter.

Make it a habit to wash and slice fresh veggies such as carrots, bell peppers and celery and keep them on hand in the fridge for snacking and slicing into salads.

Then focus on establishing other simple habits with maximum impact.

Since eating out is such a diet buster – and budget blow – for most of us, that’s a great place to start.

For example, order less. If you’re eating with a companion, get individual salads and share an entrée. Or make a meal out of a couple of appetizers.

Commit to eating out less and eating more meals at home. Consider other changes, too, such as these:

• Do something – anything – physically active every day. If you don’t feel like going to the gym, take a walk. Don’t feel like a walk? Spend 10 minutes stretching.

The point is, do something active every day. Once you’re on a roll, you’ll find it’s easier to keep it up.

• Form a team. It’s easier to make and maintain changes with support from family and friends.

Find a few people who share your goals and can be counted on to share successes and encourage you as you confront challenges.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy New Year!

Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a registered dietitian and clinical associate professor of health policy and management at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reach her at suzanne@onthetable.net; follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.

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