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Struggling with your New Year’s resolution to eat better? Print

3 Simple strategies to kickstart healthy eating again

This blog post is sponsored by my client, Egg Farmers of Alberta, representing the province’s more than 170 registered egg farming families, providing our province with a stable supply of fresh, high quality, nutritious locally produced eggs.

At the start of the year many of us set goals to improve a range of things including goals for our health, fitness and eating habits. But, as the weeks roll on, it can be challenging to stick with those goals. Often we find ourselves back where we started, now with a sense of defeat and frustration.

In this article I talk about rebounding from New Year’s resolutions that may not be working out and 3 strategies to kickstart healthy eating and move along a healthier path again.

 

#1 Use the “fresh start effect”

 

Researchers in the field of psychology have observed what is now known as the “fresh start effect.” This is the notion that people are more likely to take action towards goals after a temporal landmark (the start of a new distinct time period) that represents new beginnings or sometimes a special occasion. Setting a goal on the New Year, your birthday, the first day after a long weekend, the beginning of the month or the start of the week are all examples of new distinct time periods.

If you feel like you have fallen off the wagon from your New Year’s resolution, the good news is you definitely don’t need to wait until January 1st to get going again. You can use the “the fresh start effect” and find another temporal landmark to regroup and restart.

As I like to say failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. Look at failures from the lens of positivity and commit to failing forward. Think about the goal you set, assess what you’ve learned and recommit to a more supportive, clear goal.

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently

From my experience as a Dietitian for over 20 years, one of the reasons many of our clients have failed previously with goals they have set is simply because goals were vague. Often times goals they have written are confusing to understand if they were clearly on track and winning or losing. For example a goal to “eat healthier” or “lose weight” or “exercise more” is destined for you to feel like you are failing as it is unspecific and undefined. A better goal would be saying “I’m going to eat a ½ cup or more of vegetables in my lunch 5 days per week for the next 30 days” or “I’m going to walk 30-60 minutes 4 days per week for the next 2 months.” Now I clearly understand how you will measure success. As boring as you might think setting SMART goals actually is (specific, measurable attainable, relevant and timely), they absolutely work.

What new temporal landmark (aka new distinct time period) will you select to get started again on your goal? How can you revise your last New Year’s resolution into a written SMART goal?

 

#2 Make goals positive (not restrictive)

 

Rather than setting punishing goals that provide restrictive limits on food what would happen if you instead focused on goals that were positive and nurturing? What would happen if you stopped labelling foods as good, or bad and forbidden?

Instead of making a goal to “stop eating potato chips” instead make a specific goal to “for the next 30 days eat potato chips slowly, mindfully, away from distraction and technology and savor each bite to begin fully appreciating this soulful food choice.”

When you do and you begin practicing making food your friend you will find that less becomes more. Allow yourself to fully enjoy soulful foods such as potato chips and chocolate chosen for taste and enjoyment. Our company mission is to help empower you to create a healthful and joyous relationship with food and your body. Yes, this is possible!

While it can take time (and plenty of practice if you’ve had a poor relationship with food and your body), practice reframing enjoyment of these foods. In time you will see overeating potato chips will lessen and you won’t need to stuff down a family-sized large bag all at once. As you practice you will begin to appreciate that you can enjoy some again tomorrow, feel satisfied with less and that you don’t need to be at war with food.

If food is a struggle for you, reach out to us and book some one-on-one nutrition counseling with a Registered Dietitian on our team who can offer you a helping hand to kickstart healthy eating.

 

#3 Be realistic about your available time

 

Many of us are guilty of setting grandiose goals that were destined to fail not because they were not good ideas, but simply because they did not work with our schedule this week. As you look at the week ahead in pursuit of your goals, be very realistic about your available time. While there are plenty of short cuts that can save you time in achieving a healthier diet, ensure the goals you set have enough breathing room for life to happen.

Your schedule will inevitably go sideways. Your motivation to take time to cook healthy meals will waiver. Expect this (it happens to Dietitians too!)

One strategy our Dietitian team at our practice uses is to help our clients set up “backup meals.” These are speedy meal solutions for time crunched or changing schedules.

I’ve written previously about this concept here in this post on Backup Healthy Meal Plans In a Crunch. In a best case scenario planning meals ahead for the week and taking time to head out grocery shopping would be great, but we all know that life isn’t perfect or predictable. Having a list of 3-5 healthy backup meals you can execute at ANY time is key. This means committing to have these ingredients on standby at all times.

In my home one of the backup meals we always have on hand is eggs (usually served with multigrain/sourdough toast and raw veggies and dip or as a breakfast burrito in a wrap with sautéed/raw veggies). Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein, are fast to make and have a long-shelf life making them ideal for backup healthy meals on busy weekdays. One egg contains 6 grams of protein, and only 70 calories. If you’ve been avoiding eggs because of concerns linking them to raising blood cholesterol or heart disease, the latest research shows that healthy adults can enjoy an egg every day without increasing the risk of heart disease.

Looking for a recipe to try? You can keep it super simple and toss scrambled eggs with grated cheese and tomatoes or salsa into a wrap or enjoy this recipe from my client Egg Farmers of Alberta.

 

Breakfast Burrito (for Dinner!)

breakfast-burrito-with-eggs

What You Need

 

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup dices, sweet orange pepper (or any color you like)
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh, canned or frozen/thawed)
  • 1/2 cup rinsed, drained canned black beans
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 12-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/4 cup 5% sour cream
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • fresh cilantro leaves and hot sauce of your choice (optional)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp paprika

 

How You Make

 

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk; set aside.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tsp (5 mL) of the olive oil over medium heat. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 2 minutes. Add corn, beans, water, salt and spices; mix well and cook until water has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large non-stick skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat.
  5. Pour in egg mixture and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring gently, until eggs are set but still soft. Remove from heat.

Hint: For making breakfast burritos I like to keep extra wraps in the freezer and jars of roasted red peppers in the pantry in case I’m out of fresh.

 

What else will you have on your backup meal plan for your healthy eating kickstart?

 

Looking for more simple meal planning tips and healthy recipes for a healthier lifestyle? Sign up for our weekly newsletter for a healthy recipe of the week (and nutrition articles and videos with a balanced living philosophy to help encourage healthy habits but still save room for your favorites). Our nutrition newsletter is written by the Online / Calgary Nutritionists on our team who each hold a professional Registered Dietitian license to ensure you are getting credible advice.

 

For more assistance on healthy eating for long term success, reach out to our Registered Dietitian team for private nutrition counseling. Find out more about our Calgary Dietitian / Online Nutritionist services here: Personal Nutrition Counseling.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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