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by Sara Colman Carlson, RDN, CDCES

Resolutions, goal setting and checklists are popular topics this time of year. A new beginning is an opportunity to start new habits, stop old habits, focus on health, relationships, self-development and more.

I personally like the idea of new beginnings. Each year before January 1st, I take a “me” day for the purpose of reflecting on the past year and visualizing my life for the next year. I embrace this time to pick several goals for the New Year.

When it comes to setting goals around eating, there are a few things to consider. Dieting tends to have a negative connotation– what not to do, what to avoid. This can leave a sense of emptiness as favorite foods are “taken away”.

Today’s emphasis is not on good vs. bad foods. Instead the emphasis is on dietary patterns with a focus is on healthy food choices, based on personal preferences. It’s a focus on finding a way of eating that works for you, while helping achieve goals like healthy eating or weight management, yet still choosing foods you enjoy. Trying to follow the “perfect” diet all the time is a recipe for disappointment, guilt and
failure. Instead, be consistent in making good choices, limit less healthy foods, and avoid being a food perfectionist.

One of the best strategies for setting and reaching a goal is the SMART method.
The SMART acronym stands for:

S for Specific

Link your goal to one activity, thought, or idea.
For example, “My goal is to eat healthier by including fresh fruits and veggies for my snacks.”

M for Measurable

Can you track and measure progress toward your goal?
For example, “Two of my daily snacks will include at least one fruit or vegetable 5 days a week.”

A for Actionable

Define tasks or actions you can take to make progress toward a goal.
For example, “After grocery shopping I will prep and portion fruit/veggies into ready-to-go containers.”
Or “Each day I will track my snacks using my favorite food tracking app.”

R for Realistic

Is the goal possible to achieve? For example, instead of setting this goal for every day and every snack, I have left room for times when I may not be able to follow through every single day.

T for Timely

Set a specific time period for each goal.
For example, “I will snack on fruits and veggies twice a day from January 2nd until February 28th.

Apply this simple example when setting your new beginning SMART goals for the New Year based on what is most important to you.

Happy New Year!

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