According to a poll of U.S. adults, “Eat healthier” was one of the top three New Year’s resolutions for 2018. But if the 37% of survey respondents who chose that goal failed to get more specific about their intentions, chances are they may have ended up making the same resolution for 2019. If cleaning up your diet made your list, you need to check out the expert tips we collected on how to stick to your healthy eating New Year’s resolutions once and for all. That way when 2020 rolls around, you won’t find yourself reupping on last year’s goals.
The Key to Healthy Eating New Year’s Resolutions Success
There’s a reason healthy eating is consistently one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. It’s a super worthwhile goal! By breaking it down into smaller, more defined steps that are easier to track, you can set yourself up for success.
It’s always more challenging to take on a big, multifaceted goal like changing the way you eat. Taking the time to think through the steps between where you are now and where you want to be, as well as prioritizing which of those steps are most important to you and deciding the order in which you’ll implement them, makes it much more likely you’ll be able to sustain your momentum past January 15th.
Expert Tips and Advice to Help You Hit Your Healthy Eating Goals
This list of eight tips from experts and science-validated advice on the most effective ways to clean up your diet will make sticking to your healthy eating New Year’s resolutions way more doable.
1. Start Your Day with a Serving of Vegetables
Jackie Newgent, a registered dietician nutritionist, culinary nutritionist, and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook, recommends committing to making low-carb vegetables at least half of what you eat at every meal. “For most people (including me!), that’s easier to do for lunch and dinner than for breakfast,” Newgent said in a SELF interview. “So, my eating resolution this year is to include veggies in one way or another at every breakfast. I see plenty of non-traditional breakfasts in the future!”
If you need inspiration, check out our Green Smoothie Bowl. It features 4 full cups of leafy greens—plus, it looks absolutely gorgeous!
2. Drink More Water
“First of all, I hate the idea of New Year’s resolutions,” said Kathy Kaehler, a celebrity trainer and founder of Sunday Set-Up, a healthy eating club, in an interview with Reader’s Digest. She went on to acknowledge that we all have habits we might know aren’t the healthiest and that we might desire to change. Her goal for 2019 is to drink more water.
“I tell myself all the time, ‘You haven’t had enough water today,’” Kaehler admitted. Her plan is to turn hydration into a game and look for ways to make drinking water exciting. “Maybe I’ll compete with my partner. I’m also going to create more ways to be motivated to drink, perhaps with a carbonation machine like Soda Stream or keeping a freezer full of flavored ice cubes: mint leaves, lemon and lime zest, fresh grapefruit, etc.”
There’s a wealth of scientific data to support this healthy eating resolution. Research has shown that omega-3s can boost your mood—something we can all benefit from in the doldrums of winter. And according to the International Study of Macro- and Micro-nutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP), an international, cross-sectional epidemiologic study of 4,680 men and women ages 40 to 59 from 17 population-based samples in China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, there’s a clear connection between omega-3 intake and heart health. Data showed that adults who consumed the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids consistently had the healthiest blood pressure readings.
4. Practice Mindful Eating
Go beyond what you eat by including a healthy eating resolution that’s focused on how you eat.
“A big goal of mine for the new year is to eat more mindfully,” Edwina Clark, a registered dietician and certified specialist in sports dietetics as well as the head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly, told SELF. “The last couple of months have been super hectic and I have found myself rushing through meals more than usual.” In 2019, Clark intends to take time to taste and appreciate the food she eats.
“Food is such a delightful, sensory experience, and a privilege! Furthermore, there’s evidence to suggest that practicing mindful eating may assist with portion control, weight management, and possibly even digestion, which are all factors in long-term health,” Clark said.
5. Increase Your Fiber Intake
Eating more fiber can bring you a number of health benefits, such as a decreased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and multiple types of cancer. Plus, it can support healthy weight-loss efforts (another common New Year’s resolution). Unfortunately, according to a patient resource created by the University of California, San Francisco, most adults living in the United States eat an average of 15 grams of fiber daily, about half the recommended daily allowance of 25 to 30 grams.
Adding healthy whole grains like quinoa and oatmeal to your diet is a wonderful way to up your fiber intake. Try adding a tasty, easy grain bowl recipe to your dinner rotation—they make ideal weeknight meals.
6. Find Ways to Work Probiotics and Prebiotics into Your Diet
“Having a combination of prebiotics and probiotics in our diets can be a very powerful step to improving our overall health,” said Laura Manning, a registered dietician and the clinical nutrition coordinator in the department of gastroenterology at The Mount Sinai Hospital, in an interview with SELF.
Probiotics, as you may know already, are active cultures that are identical to or very similar to the beneficial bacteria living in our guts. Consuming probiotics not only improves your digestion but also boosts your overall well-being. Manning highlighted yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh as valuable dietary sources of probiotics.
Prebiotics have historically gotten less attention than probiotics, but they’re just as important. “Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut,” Manning explained. She lists bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, and soybeans as some of the best prebiotic foods.
7. Add More Meatless Meals to Your Diet
No one’s saying you have to embrace veganism (unless that interests you!), but there are plenty of good reasons to at least cut back on your meat consumption. There’s strong evidence to indicate that it’s healthier for the planet: according to the most comprehensive analysis to date on how farming impacts the environment, eating less meat and dairy is the single most significant choice individuals can make when it comes to protecting planet Earth.
The decision to eat less meat can also profoundly improve your personal health. “We have just been doing some calculations looking at the question of how much could we reduce mortality [by] shifting toward a healthy, more plant-based diet—not necessarily totally vegan—and our estimates are [that] about one-third of early deaths could be prevented,” said Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School.
8. Eat Two (or More!) Pieces of Fruit Daily
“Even though I know as a nutrition expert how healthy fruit is, I don’t eat enough of it in the winter months,” Keri Gans, a registered dietician and the author of The Small Change Diet, confessed to SELF. In 2019, she’s going to attempt to eat two pieces of fruit per day. “With oranges, clementines, pears, and apples galore, it shouldn’t be so hard,” Gans said. She noted, too, that she can always fill up on berries—a favorite snack—as long as she’s willing to pay extra for the out-of-season treat.
Buying frozen fruit is a convenient way to ensure you always have some on hand, and it’s typically just as nutrient-rich as fresh fruit! With recipes like the one for our Super Energizing Berries and Beets Smoothie, you can blend yourself up a fruit and veggie-packed one-two punch.