Achieving your nutrition goals doesn’t have to be hard or feel difficult to achieve. You just need a few key actions to help you take small steps toward your goals. Why small steps? Because small steps create lasting change.
Small steps allow us to transform habits and implement new systems that we are able to hold onto long term. When we try to change everything all at once we doom ourselves to failure – that’s too much change at once, no matter how determined you are. And once we feel like we are failing, it is too easy to throw up our hands and throw in the towel.
So, what are some key small steps to help us conquer our nutrition goals in 2021? The answer may vary depending on your specific goals, but generally speaking, here are my top 5 small steps to help you reach your nutrition goals:
- Choose one big change at a time
Sticking with the small steps theme! Focus on one area of nutritional change at once. You may have multiple goals, but let’s take them one at a time. In fact, start with the one you think will be the easiest for you to achieve to help you build momentum and motivation.
- Healthy snack prep
The more you have healthy foods readily available in advance, the more likely you will be to make better choices when you are hungry. Think about it. When you are hungry in the middle of the afternoon, do you really want to take the time (or even have the time available to take) to cut up some fresh veggies or fruit to snack on? Likely not. So, what do you reach for? A bag of sweets or chips, perhaps? Probably whatever is close and convenient, right? So how do you avoid this pitfall? Have healthy options ready to pick up and snack on. That could be whole pieces of fresh fruit, individual servings of cut up veggies or nuts, small containers with hummus or nut butter, etc. Make the healthy foods just as convenient as the unhealthy ones to increase the likelihood you’ll make that better choice when hunger strikes.
- Keep a food journal
It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or fancy. Just a quick list of what you eat each day. This can be very eye opening. How many snacks did you have in a given day? How much water vs soda did you consume? How many sweet things did you eat? You get the idea. Knowledge is power and just taking a few moments eat day to record what you have eaten can inform you as to where maybe you have some additional work to do when it comes to your goals.
- Meal planning
Again, this doesn’t have to be fancy or take a ton of time. Pick a day of the week, before you do your grocery shopping, to make a quick list of the meals and snacks you want to make for the upcoming week. Whether you are single or have a house full of people to feed, this is an impactful small step. Planning out meals can help you make healthier meal choices, lessen the need/desire to order take out, ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients in your diet, and not to mention set you up for success with your goals for the week ahead.
Certainly, this step can include finding new recipes, but it doesn’t have to. I recommend finding a few “go to” recipes in addition to some simple meals. For example, you may have 6-12 “go to” recipes that you cycle through supplementing them with more simple meals. Those “go to” recipes can be collected over time, based on your schedule and how much time you have in one sitting to search for recipes. When it comes to simple meals, these might be something like grilled chicken with some broccoli or perhaps a steak with a baked potato and a small salad. No recipe needed for these simple meals.
Lastly, plan meals based on when you plan to cook your meals (daily preparation of meals vs batch cooking) and how much time you have to give for each meal. As your schedule changes, so may your meal planning needs. For example, trying a new recipe that is intricate and time consuming will likely not be a good choice on a week when you have little time to devote to meal prep. So be sure to allow for some flexibility as you plan.
- Batch cooking
Similar to tip #2 above, having healthy meals readily available, will increase the likelihood that you will be to make better choices when it’s time for your next meal. This is especially true for those of you with busy schedules. Taking 2-4 hours on the weekend to cook your meals in advance can save you hours during your busy work week as well as prevent you from skipping meals, opting for fast food, or other unhealthy options. It can also help you eat at better and more regular times on those long workdays. Combining tip #4 with this one is a powerful combination that can ultimately save you time and help to ensure you stay on track with your nutrition goals.
Remember, your current habits weren’t born in a day, so changing them likely won’t happen overnight. However, sticking with small steps consistently will lead you down the path toward successful change and eventually to goal achievement! Small steps, forward progress. You got this! Namaste.