- What is healthy eating?
- Practical advice for healthy eating
- Healthy Eating Plate and Integrative Nutrition Plate
- Tools for weight control as part of healthy eating
- How much to eat?
- Week 1: Getting started on the six-week plan
- Why keep a food diary?
- Shopping trip tips
- Reading labels for healthy eating
- The Clean Food Club
- Setting goals for healthy eating success
- Week 2: Build a better breakfast
- The healthy breakfast plate
- Setting goals for breakfast success
- Smart starts
- Make a morning exercise appointment
- Curb coffee-drink calories
- Week 3: Healthy up your lunch
- The healthy lunch plate
- Setting goals for lunch success
- What’s for lunch?
- Lunchtime strategies
- Week 4: Make dinner a winner
- The healthy dinner plate
- Sneaky ways to get in more fruits and vegetables
- Healthy up supermarket entrées
- Outwit your appetite
- Week 5: Make sense of snacks
- Setting goals for snacking success
- Smart snacks
- Week 6: Keep it going
- Taking stock
- Keep up the good work
- Cooking kickoff: Recipes for success
Setting goals for healthy eating success
Whether you’re trying to cook at home more, eat fewer processed foods, or consume less sodium, goal setting is an important part of your healthy-eating plan. Setting goals is helpful because it gives you something to strive for, a standard by which you can judge your success. Your task for this week is to use your food diary to determine the overall parts of your diet you need to improve. You should set your own personal goals, but here are some starting points:
Fruits and vegetables. After you’ve completed your food diary for three days (two weekdays and one weekend), begin to analyze your food diary by noting the fruits and vegetables you consumed. Over the past three days, how many did you eat in relation to your goal? Ideally, in three days, you should have about nine servings of fruit and about 12 servings of vegetables. How did you do? Where do you need to improve?
Write your answers in your food diary.
Cooking from scratch. Preparing your meals at home with whole, unprocessed ingredients and eating fewer processed and restaurant meals gives you more control over your intake of sodium, calories, and other nutrients. According to your food diary, how often did you eat out? How many processed foods did you consume? In those three days, how many times did you cook from scratch or make your meal with whole, unprocessed ingredients? Write your answers in your food diary.
Eating habits. Most of us could benefit from slowing down and devoting our attention to eating. When we multitask with food or eat quickly, we can consume more food (and therefore calories) without realizing it and sacrifice a feeling of satisfaction. How many times did you eat while also doing something else? How much time did you spend eating at each meal? Write your answers in your food diary.
Take a look at your answers and establish general goals based on your current habits. To set goals successfully, keep the following guidelines in mind.
Aim to make just three or four small diet changes in the weeks to follow (one or two goals per week) rather than trying to radically overhaul your eating habits. The gradual approach is a set-up for success because it’s not overwhelming and removes the pressure. Even though you’re setting mini goals, you can often get lots of mileage out of them. By eating out less often or consuming fewer processed foods, for example, you’ll automatically reduce the number of calories you’re taking in, slash your intake of saturated fat, and consume less sodium.
Start from where you are now and try to improve. If, according to your food diary, for example, you ate lunch out five times in five days, a good goal to set for yourself would be to cut back to three restaurant or take-in lunches and bring your lunch to work two days. Once you get used to that change, you can add even more days to your bring-lunch-from-home routine, so that eating lunch out eventually becomes the exception.
Set specific, behavior-driven goals
Specific, short-term, behavioral goals are more motivating and easier to measure than general, long-term, end-result goals. Instead of “I want to lose 10 pounds by my birthday,” for example, a specific, behavior-driven goal would be “I’ll have a salad for lunch each day.” Instead of “I’ll stop snacking,” make it your goal to set out a tangerine for your afternoon snack. Behavior-driven goals are easier to achieve because they focus on one step toward a result that can take months to accomplish.
Each week, when you reach your behavior-driven goal, you earn an opportunity to celebrate personal achievement, which helps maintain motivation. At the end of each week, assess your progress and reward yourself for the small changes you made; for instance, you might treat yourself to a movie. Moving in the right direction deserves some acknowledgment to encourage you to continue the positive, healthful behavior change.
A note about wording: state your goals throughout this six-week journey as “I will …” It’s more a more powerful proclamation than “I want to …” or “I’d like to …”
Based on your food diary, what specific goals would you like to set? List three goals for changes you’d like to make in your diet in the coming weeks.