The first few months of any new year can be a stressful time as is, with work and schools going back – not to mention all of the social outings that usually fall around this time! Setting resolutions for yourself during this time, in reality, can then become something of a burden and cause much anxiety as our lives continue to get busier.

If you’ve decided to set yourself a goal to be a bit healthier in 2018, that’s great!! I really applaud you and know how challenging it can be to stick to New Year’s resolutions. So, I thought I’d put together a list of things you can start implementing today (no matter what time of year it is!) to help you along with your goals -without all of the stress and guilt.

1. Small steps: Incorporating just one thing at a time is more sustainable towards your goal and more realistic when trying to add another thing to the already growing pile! Maybe try incorporating one simple new habit each week –  eating two pieces of fruit this week, walking an extra 15 minutes each day next week (for some incidental exercise and essential vitamin D from the sun) and swapping margarine to grass fed butter or ghee the week after.

2. Find an approach that fits your lifestyle: As a nutritionist, I’m a firm believer in making your diet work for you. This means not following diet trends when they don’t make you happy or simply don’t fit into your lifestyle. Everybody is different and no one approach fits all! Choosing to follow a diet trend that is really difficult and doesn’t fit into your lifestyle just isn’t sustainable or fair on you! You can follow a healthy diet without having to fit into these trends! Instead, choose an approach to healthy eating that can be flexible and adaptable – it can evolve with you as your needs change.

3. Celebrate each win, no matter how small: Did you manage to eat an extra serving of vegetables at dinner or were able to cook a nourishing meal and eat with your family? That’s great! As a society, we often compare ourselves to others and think we’re not working hard enough or not achieving enough. Incorporating one thing at a time and then celebrating when you have made this into a habit can really help you achieve longer term goals and create a more sustainable healthy lifestyle. Ultimately, this will make you happier and more likely to achieve your goals.

4. Don’t restrict yourself: For many people, choosing to be a bit more healthy often starts with weight loss and dieting, which can lead to calorie restriction and consistent hunger. This can have a significant negative impact on your moods,  endocrine system, brain function and over time can cause damage to essential gut microflora. Instead, try to focus on the inclusion of whole, real foods rich in protein and fats to keep you sustained over a longer period of time. Focusing on what you can have, rather than what you can’t, may help you achieve your goals and ultimately make you happier.

5. Choose the best option available to you at the time: There should be no pressure for you to be “perfect” with what you eat. If you feel like you’ve fallen off the band wagon, that’s okay! In fact, I encourage it on (rare) occasions as this is part of normal life. You also don’t need to spend a lot of money or time to create a healthy, well balanced meal. Focus on the best option you can afford at the time and whole, real foods rich in flavour and colour – meaning they’re full of antioxidant micronutrients.

For example:

Above all, be kind to yourself! Creating any new habit can be challenging, but you don’t need to restrict yourself to a ‘diet’ to eat and live a vibrant life.

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