Medically reviewed by Shahzadi Devje, Registered Dietitian (RD) & Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
Thinking of setting a resolution? Swap sure-to-fail new year's resolutions with better alternatives - from Registered Dietitians.
I've been dreaming of having my own vegetable garden; a spot where our family can come together, connect and learn about the origin of our food. And not to mention, the convenience of having our favourite veggies and herbs at hand.
The vegetable garden was to "feed" our resolution - to eat more healthily in 2017. So, this past Summer (late start, I know), I commissioned a landscaper to design and build a vegetable planter box in our backyard. Few weeks later, the planter was built. And do you know what grew in it?
Nothing....at least nothing edible!
I've been reflecting on what happened. I dreamt big, but failed to follow through. I'm afraid I don't have green fingers (far from it!), and I didn't think it through carefully. It dawned on me that I did a lot of the things I caution my clients not to do, when setting their health goals - mea culpa.
As we countdown to the New Year, many of us are thinking of setting (or re-setting) new year's resolutions - to improve our diet and lifestyle. It's wonderful to aspire to be healthy and well. But here's the caveat, if your resolution is unrealistic and you fail to think it through carefully, you could fall off the resolution wagon very quickly - like me.
Here, Registered Dietitians reveal worst new year's resolutions and offer better alternatives, to help you jumpstart your healthy eating journey and set you up for long-term success.
I will cut sugar out altogether!
So many people go on sugar cleanses in the new year. I can totally understand wanting to eat healthier after blowing the doors off with all that holiday food, but cutting out a single ingredient altogether for an extended time is just silly. Sure, make it a habit (read: habit, not 'resolution', which begs to be broken) to eat less sugar. But trying to cut sugar out altogether is not only unsustainable - you're not going to have cake ever again? - it's also setting you up for failure and guilty feelings. My recommendation is cut sugar down and minimize your intake of ultra-processed crappy food and sugary sodas. Realize that food and eating should be enjoyable, and at times, that's going to mean something sugary. Eat, get over it, and move on. No 'sugar cleanse' required.
Abby Langer RD, Abby Langer Nutrition
I will cleanse away the calories!
Starting the New Year with a cleanse or detox as a means to put you on the path to better health or a more desirable weight is one of the worst choices anyone could make. Seeking a silver bullet solution as a means to reinvigorate your goals for the new year makes no sense because it only further delays and deviates you from the inevitable reality that it requires sound, balanced food choices over a prolonged period of time to allow you, or anyone else, to reach their goals in a healthy sustainable manner. Whole unprocessed foods, rather than "detox" supplements and smoothies, are what will offer your body the best source of nourishment while also keeping you satisfied.
Andy De Santis RD, MPH, AndyTheRD
I will cut out gluten!
It's a common misconception that gluten is the root cause of all health woes, so a lot of people are switching all of their grains to gluten free specialty products. The problem is, if you're not celiac, there is no reason to cut out gluten. In fact, most gluten free products are lower in beneficial fibres and protein than their gluten filled counterparts. Instead, I suggest cutting back on refined grains and choosing nutrient rich satiating whole grains more often.
Abbey Sharpe RD, Abbey's Kitchen
I will eat a super small amount of calories to lose weight!
Doing this long-term can actually harm your metabolism, plus you want energy from food so you can exercise and enjoy your daily activities! Instead, I recommend adding more volume to your meals with lower-calorie foods - such as fruits and veggies - that are full of nutrients. This way, the fiber and the water from the produce helps keep you fuller for longer so you'll be less likely to overdo it on the snacks, and you won't feel deprived.
Amy Gorin MS, RDN, Amy Gorin Nutrition
I will not eat anything that grows underground!
My (least) fave so far this year is: Not eating anything that 'grows under the ground' Instead I'd suggest not needlessly excluding whole groups of food and restricting your diet. No foods are inherently 'bad or 'good'. Try focusing on taking your time to reassess how you feel around food. Learn to read hunger and satiety cues, eat foods you enjoy and which satisfy you.
Jess English RD, Level Up Nutrition
I will eat clean!
Dietitians reveal sure-to-fail new year resolutions and offer better alternatives - to help you jumpstart your healthy eating journey. Click To Tweet
Eating clean is an ambiguous term; typically includes avoiding all processed foods, added sugars, white grains and starches, coffee, desserts; and opting for plainly cooked foods instead. The term 'clean eating' makes the assumption that there is something morally wrong with eating those types of foods, when we know there's a time and place for them in our diets and lives. Instead, I encourage people to cook the majority of their meals year-round, incorporate a large variety of all types of foods (most of which are minimally processed), and of course make room for some discretionary treats and pleasures!
Sanja Petrovic RD, CDE, MSC
As you consider setting New Year's resolutions, here's some food for thought:
- Feed your goals with inspiration: If it's meaningful, you're more likely to commit with conviction. Know your why and let that inspire your resolution.
- A goal is an illusion without a plan. Accompany your resolution with actionable steps, otherwise, it's just a dream.
- Check-in with yourself: Review your resolution daily, to assess its status and tweak, if necessary. This will help you stay focused and keep the momentum.
- Embrace uncertainty: Accepting that things will not always go as you planned will help you cope with setbacks, plateaus and challenges - progression over perfection. Take it one day at a time and be kind to yourself.
Let me know what's your new year's resolution?
Did you set a goal or intention last year? How did it go?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!
Shahzadi is an award-winning registered dietitian (RD) regulated by the College of Dietitians of Ontario and certified diabetes educator (CDE), approved by the Canadian Diabetes Educator Certification Board. A YouTuber and notorious foodie, she's dedicated to helping you end your cooking wars, transform your health, and be the best version of yourself! Shahzadi is an on-air nutrition expert for CTV Your Morning and a regular contributor for Global News and other national media outlets.