As a registered dietitian, there are certain reoccurring themes that I observe this time of year. In December, it’s all about enjoying the holidays (as it should be!) and eating the festive (and often indulgent) foods that go along with them. Come January, it’s common to want to get back on track, start a diet, and ring in the New Year with healthy habits. As February and March roll around, it becomes more common to get sick of said diet, feel deprived of certain foods, and totally throw in the towel on those healthy habits.
This pattern typically continues throughout the year – the beginning of spring sparks the diet mentality again, and by the end of the summer, that diet might be over. Even though it may be common, it’s also flat out exhausting to start and stop dieting like this year after year. What if I told you that there’s a way to end this cycle – a way to put the brakes on this dieting rollercoaster once and for all? This is the foundation of the work I do with the clients I counsel. Keep reading to learn how you can not only start 2018 on a healthy note, but also stop dieting for good.
1. Focus on what you CAN eat
One of the main reasons that diets fail is because they’re so hyper focused on what we’re not allowed to eat. Foods like pizza, pasta, cookies, and ice cream (usually some of our favorites!) are considered totally off limits. And while we keep them out of sight, they don’t necessarily stay out of mind. For this reason, it’s no wonder most diets fail – we focus so heavily on the foods that we can’t eat, that all we want to do is end the diet and succumb to those cravings.
So, instead of focusing on what you should be eating less of, focus on all the things you’re eating more of, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. You can eat a slice or two of whole grain pizza with a big salad on the side, or a bowl of whole wheat pasta with roasted broccoli and sundried tomatoes tossed in. The vegetables add volume so your bowl looks as full as it would if it was all pasta. See how that works? There’s room for all foods as part of a healthy diet, and when you hype up the healthier foods in your mind, they become much more desirable. Instead of telling yourself that you shouldn’t eat certain foods, focus on building up what you should be eating more of, allowing yourself to enjoy those indulgent foods when you truly want them. Inevitably, this turns the “diet” into a much more sustainable lifestyle plan. And research supports that when we change our lifestyle, including our approach to what we’re eating, the changes made stick for longer amounts of time with better results.1
2. Sweeten with intention
Speaking of all the foods you can’t eat, let’s talk about dessert. Unfortunately, sweets are typically off-limits when it comes to dieting. Diets are notorious for being low-calorie, low-carb, and low-fun. But since we’re changing the standard diet into a sustainable lifestyle plan, we’re also bringing back the fun.
Include your favorite desserts in your routine, while still cutting down on added sugar by using a low-calorie sweetener (LCS), like SPLENDA® Sweeteners. Making an intentional choice to swap added sugar with an LCS allows you to enjoy the sweet taste you love without all the extra calories. Plain unsweetened Greek yogurt mixed with a little SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener and frozen for an hour makes the perfect frozen yogurt dessert, while these chocolate chip cookies baked with SPLENDA® are the best way to indulge without too much added sugar. And if you like sweet foods for more than just dessert, add a packet of SPLENDA® to breakfasts and snacks. For example, while oatmeal is probably one of the most common “diet” breakfasts out there, many of the flavored varieties are packed with added sugar. Try my peanut butter banana overnight oats recipe below to elevate your healthy breakfast, without sacrificing an ounce of the taste.
3. Make a plan
Now that you have a better idea of what to do, how exactly do you go about putting it into action? January might arguably be the hardest time of year to start a plan as diet and healthy eating advice is everywhere. The hundreds of available articles and tips about dieting can get so overwhelming, they can make you want to return to those old diet ways.
Instead of hopping back on that rollercoaster, meet with a registered dietitian to help you make a concrete plan. Dietitians are trained in all things nutrition and can work with you, no matter what time of year it is, to make a long-term, sustainable plan that works best for you. Tell your dietitian your goals and, together, set realistic expectations to achieve them. With a concrete plan that focuses on all the amazing foods you can eat, you’re guaranteed to get off the undesirable dieting rollercoaster for good. Now that makes for one happy new year!
Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats Recipe
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- ½ scoop unflavored collagen
- 1 packet SPLENDA® Naturals Stevia Sweetener
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- ½ banana, sliced
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Mix oats, almond milk, collagen and SPLENDA® Naturals in a bowl or mason jar. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
- In a jar, add peanut butter to the bottom, spreading as best as possible to make it into an even layer.
- Pour overnight oats mixture on top of peanut butter.
- Top overnight oats with sliced banana. Sprinkle cinnamon on top to finish.
This blog post is sponsored by SPLENDA® Brand but all opinions are my own.
1 Wadden, T. A., Webb, V. L., Moran, C. H., & Bailer, B. A. (2012). Lifestyle modification for obesity. Circulation, 125(9), 1157-1170.
For more information about planning a healthy diet, visit the Healthy Lifestyle section of this blog.
Sammi Haber is a New York City-based Registered Dietitian and founder of her private practice, Nutrition Works NY. Sammi received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics with a Clinical Nutrition concentration from New York University. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Sammi completed her one-year intensive dietetic internship at the James J. Peters Bronx VA Medical Center. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and the Greater New York Dietetic Association.