Nutrition is an ever-evolving science and always a hot topic. Regardless of your health goals, drastic lifestyle changes can be tempting because they often produce fast results. However, small changes over time are a more reliable way to meet your goals. Whether you are trying to lose weight, get stronger, or simply improve the quality of your diet, being realistic about your goals and having a strategy to succeed is key. The following suggestions can help you develop healthy nutrition habits.

Say “yes” to lifestyle and behavior modifications, say “no” to fads.

How can you spot a fad diet? According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, these are some telltale signs:

  • Weight loss of more than two pounds per week. Fast weight loss will rob you of muscle mass and bone density. You will also be more likely to regain the pounds quickly afterwards.
  • Unlimited amounts of one food group, while restricting another. Even if you take a multivitamin, you will still miss some critical nutrients.
  • Any program that claims increased weight loss if foods are eaten in specific combinations. There is no evidence that combining certain foods or eating at a specific time will help with weight loss.
  • Any routine with strict menu options and choices . This is difficult to maintain long-term.
  • Any program that emphasizes no exercise while dieting. Combining diet and exercise is the most effective strategy to improve health habits.

Quick fixes are tempting, but malnutrition, rebound weight gain, and possible decreased organ function are long-term risks that are simply not worth taking.  A 1-2 pound loss per week may seem slow, but it is healthy and more likely to last.

Get into the habit of making a game plan.

When going to a party, a meeting, or any event with food, eat beforehand so that you are not completely starved. Consider what you will eat while there. Get into the mindset of choosing healthy options before setting foot inside a restaurant. By having a game plan, you are leaving yourself less susceptible to sudden urges and poor impulse choices.

Reduce portion sizes.

Learning to see with your stomach and not your eyes is an important behavior change. Reducing portion sizes to amounts that leave you feeling satisfied, but not stuffed, is an excellent strategy.

Be careful when cutting calories.

Dipping too low can often have more negative effects than positive, including a slower metabolism, decreased energy, and increased risk of binging on unhealthy foods. Instead, focus on smaller, more frequent meals to keep you strong, healthy and satisfied.

Finally, focus on how far you’ve come rather than how far you have to go.

Having an “all or nothing” mentality is a self-sabotaging concept. Maintain a “one day at a time” mentality and always celebrate small successes. Focus on the process and remember that small steps can lead to big accomplishments!

As February nears, the Nutrition Habit Challenge 2017 can help you focus on developing healthy, long-lasting nutrition habits. Register by January 31st and join our community for a chance to win some great prizes, including a trip for four to Disney World!

Be sure to talk with your trainer about what small changes you can make to help you reach your goals!