Healthy eating and weight loss tend to be popular resolutions when it comes to the New Year.  Luckily, some of the smallest changes in our dietary habits can yield the biggest results when it comes to long-term weight loss and improved health behaviors. Today I’m sharing a few ways to start off a New Year of healthy eating.

  • Avoid skipping meals.

    Avoid going long periods of time between meals and snacks. Your metabolism works best when you are consistently fueling yourself throughout the day – ideally every 3-4 hours.  If you’re in a meeting or running errands during a meal time, make sure to at least have a snack (trail mix, peanut butter crackers, etc.) to tie you over until you can get an actual meal. If you’re going out with friends for dinner, try to avoid being ravenously hungry when you get to the restaurant. To do this, have a small snack, such as a handful of nuts or an apple, about 30 minutes or so before going out to eat.

  • Essential Eating Utensils
  • Take time with your meals.

    Slow down your pace of eating so that it takes you at least 15 to 20 minutes to eat your meal. One way to accomplish this is making sure to put down the fork in between every bite of food. Sometimes we end up eating so quickly, and we end up having the fourth bite of mashed potatoes ready to go on our fork before we’ve even completely swallowed our first initial bite. Other ways you can slow your pace of eating include taking a sip of water (or other low-calorie beverage) in between bites of food or even having conversation in between bites of food. Slowing down your pace of eating not only helps with getting full off of a smaller portion size, but it also allows you to take time to really enjoy and savor each bite.

  • Make friends with veggies.

    Be mindful that since vegetables do not contain many calories, they will not be very helpful in providing energy. Avoid getting so full off of vegetables that it prevents you from eating the calorie-containing foods that you do need for weight management and daily function. Make a practice of making half of your plate veggies followed by one-fourth starch and one-fourth protein when building your plate to ensure a nice balance. Great ways to sneak in vegetables throughout the day include between-meal snacks and popping frozen veggies in reusable steamer bags for a quick vegetable sidekick at dinner.

  • Don’t underestimate the power of water.

    Even though it may seem contradictory, drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help with reducing water retention and bloating, especially since you’re getting to flush out your system. If you have trouble getting in the usual recommended eight glasses of water per day, using a water bottle at work or at home can be a fun way to prompt you to drink more. Also, naturally flavoring your water with slices of fruit to steep in a pitcher of ice water can be refreshing and avoids artificial sweeteners.

As with any new health goal, social support is key. Having a friend or family member to keep you accountable throughout the year can ensure better success.  The best long-term success with healthy eating is being able to incorporate some of your favorite foods in moderation while practicing additional healthy-eating behaviors. Any fad diets that are found on the Internet or in a magazine that exclude entire food groups can be a red flag indicating that this isn’t a long-term way to eat.