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Top 10 Diet and Nutrition Resolutions

The best ways to lose weight and eat healthfully in the new year.

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6. Practice low-calorie evening relaxation traditions. Instead of an after-work cocktail, drink a "virgin Mary" in a wine glass after a long day, suggests Dawn Jackson, RD, a weight-loss dietitian at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Wellness Institute in Chicago. Or unwind with a hot cup of herbal or no-calorie flavored tea instead of reaching for sweets.

7. Aim for lighter forkfuls. Another suggestion from Jackson: Putting less on each fork will help you eat more slowly. This, in turn, helps you enjoy your food more -- and, ultimately, to eat less.

8. Eat when you're eating. Try not to multitask (reading, watching television, answering emails, driving) while you eat, says Jackson. Instead, sit at a table and enjoy what you are eating.

9. Escape food cravings. When cravings strike, Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD, an Allure magazine columnist, suggests trying one of the following tricks:

  • Chew intensely flavored gum.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Drink a large glass of water or sugar-free soda, or a cup of tea.
  • Take a brisk, 5-minute walk.
  • Wait 20-30 minutes. If the craving persists, satisfy it with a small portion.

10. Stop eating before you're stuffed. The time to stop eating is when you reach "5" on a hunger scale of 1-10, where 1 is famished and 10 stuffed to the gills, suggests Ellie Krieger, MS, RD, host of Food Network’s Healthy Appetite and author of Small Changes, Big Results. Pushing your plate away at a 5 is a natural way to control portions without measuring, and it helps you cue into your body's needs.

12 More Little Changes

To add to the experts' list, I have a list of small, sustainable resolutions that -- along with the above suggestions -- should help you reach your weight loss goals:

1. Switch from higher-fat to lower-fat products. Instead of cream, use milk in your coffee.
2. No eating after 8 p.m., except when you go out for dinner or when it's a calorie-controlled healthy snack.
3. Get some kind of physical activity each day, even if it's only for 20-30 minutes. No excuses.
4. Eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
5. Start each day with a nourishing breakfast.
6. Eat only from a plate, not the bag or container.
7. Pack healthy snacks when you are on the go.
8. Watch one hour less of television each day.
9. Get a dog for companionship and to help you get daily activity.
10. Add strength training to your fitness routine at least two days a week.
11. Journal your meals at least once a day.
12. Allow yourself occasional treats, in moderation, so deprivation does not lead to a binge.

Making Them Stick

You've heard from the pros; now it's up to you. Make your own personal best list of resolutions that will help you lose weight and improve your health. Keep the list with you, as a screen saver on your computer or posted in a highly visible spot. It will serve as a motivator to help you make healthful changes each day.

Some other ways to make sure you stay with the program:

  • Reward yourself. To reinforce your success, build in a reward system. Make a commitment that, for example, you get to the gym five times a week, you will treat yourself. The best treats are not food-related. Celebrate your success with a manicure, a trip to see a hot new movie, or whatever feels special to you.
  • Control your surroundings. Spend time with people who support and encourage you. Stock your house with nutritious foods and throw out the empty-calorie temptations. Avoid buffets, and choose restaurants that offer healthy options.
  • Seek support. Finding an exercise pal or an online diet buddy, especially one with goals similar to yours, is one of the best ways to ensure success. It's easier to get out of bed on those cold mornings when you know someone is counting on you to exercise with them. And buddies are lifesavers when you need someone to talk you off the ledge. One suggestion: Buy your buddy a pedometer, and work together to meet 10,000 steps a day.

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