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10 Ways to Eat SMART

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dishing salad out on plate

Do you find your nutrition resolutions losing steam by February? Many of us make resolutions with great intentions, but tend to set unrealistic goals that quickly become overwhelming, resulting in abandoning them altogether.

Before you throw in the towel, remember eating habits don’t change overnight. Rather than making drastic changes to your nutrition intake all at once through dieting, consider making small specific changes. Over time, small changes can add up to big improvements. Setting SMART goals can help break even your biggest nutrition goal into small, bite-sized successes.

Make your goals:

S - specific
M - measurable
A - achievable
R - realistic
T- timed

Many people ask about simple ways to improve their eating habits that are more likely to result in long-term habits and sustainable results. Let’s talk about 10 practical ways to improve your eating habits and examples of SMART goals to set for each!

  1. Eat breakfast.

Eating early in the day fuels your body allowing you to have more energy to brave whatever the day holds. It has also been proven to help with weight management.

SMART goal example: Eat vanilla Greek yogurt with blueberries for breakfast Monday, Wednesday and Friday before 9 a.m. for the next month.

  1. Follow the MyPlate guidelines for healthier portions.

Fill half of your plate with vegetables, one quarter of your plate with healthy carbs (such as beans, corn, brown rice or fresh potatoes) and one quarter of your plate with lean meat (such as chicken or fish). This simple way to manage portion sizes ensures you obtain all the nutrients you need!

SMART goal example: Utilize the MyPlate portion guidelines to control my portions during dinner on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday for the next three months.

  1. Eat regularly.

Just like your car, your body needs refueling throughout the day in order to adequately function. Try to eat at least three meals spaced out through your day. Recent research points out intermittent fasting works best if done earlier in the day. Aim for a good breakfast and lunch along with an afternoon snack and light dinner.

SMART goal example: Set an alarm to remind me when to eat meals and snacks during the weekdays.

  1. Find ways to add fresh fruit.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a low-calorie, high-fiber snack of fresh fruit. Fruit is also loaded with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients to support your immune system.

SMART goal example: Eat one cup of mixed berries for an after-dinner treat on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next month.

  1. Make the water switch.

Substitute soda, juice, sweet tea and energy drinks for what your body really needs—water!

SMART goal example: Drink a 20 oz. bottle of water as a substitute for a 20 oz. soda three times this week.

  1. Skip the drive-thru and delivery.

Drive-thrus and delivery are more popular than ever with social distancing regulations. While it is easy and convenient to order food to-go, most fast food is high in fat, sugar and sodium—all of which work against your nutritional goals. These types of foods can also increase inflammation in the body, which is attributed to chronic disease such as hypertension and diabetes.

SMART goal example: Substitute takeout with a fresh meal made at home for three meals this week.

  1. Eat more vegetables.

Adding vegetables to your meals will help you feel full longer as well as give you a nutritious boost of vitamins and minerals. Fresh and frozen veggies are both equally nutritious.

SMART goal example: Add one serving of green vegetables (such as broccoli, green beans or spinach) to my evening meal three times this week.

  1. Don’t forget the beans and peas.

Beans and peas are high in fiber and loaded with essential nutrients including magnesium, which helps support immune function. Add to soups, salads, chili and tacos or blend into a dip. Canned beans without salt can be big time savers for any meal!

SMART goal example: Add a ½ cup serving of black beans to my salad twice this week.

  1. Go for whole grain.

Choose whole grain options of bread, cereal, crackers and rice. Whole grain foods are excellent sources of fiber and considered a healthy carbohydrate.

SMART goal example: Substitute brown rice for white rice at meals for the next month.

  1.  Chunk the junk food.

Chips, snack crackers, cookies and candy add extra calories with very little nutrition in return. Plus, they are expensive items for your food budget. Enjoy these snacks as treats for special occasions.

SMART goal example: Substitute a 100-calorie pack of nuts for a bag of chips with my sandwiches this month.

So no matter how far you’ve strayed from your nutritional goals, these 10 tips can help you develop smarter, healthier eating habits to yield sustainable results.

To schedule a one-on-one nutrition consultation or learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

Article provided by Ginny Ives, RDN, LD, CDE, LPC, FAADE, Director of Nutrition, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.