How to Turn Nutrition Goals Into Actions

STACK Expert Kait Fortunato offers four strategies to help you achieve your nutrition and health goals for the new year.

It's that time of year when many people are setting nutrition goals. And although I love how a new year causes many of us to set new goals, many of us fail to act on them because the goals are unrealistic. I am a firm believer that small, daily actions can lead to big changes.

A lot of clients tell me how they really want to get focused and make changes. As their dietician, I want to make sure the changes are realistic. I want to know my clients' reasons behind the changes and help them take steps toward achieving their goal each day. I love ending each of my sessions with one to three goals for clients to work through and come back to discuss at our next meeting, so we can see what worked and what did not. This gives them specific things to focus on that lead to big changes down the road.

Here are some examples of nutrition goals with recommended strategies to help you have a healthier year.

Goal 1: I want to improve my performance

This is a great goal, but how are you going to get there? To create a plan, I assess what my clients are currently doing and look for areas where they can improve, then set specific goals accordingly.

If you don't plan to visit a dietitian or nutritionist, you can assess how you're fueling your performance by reviewing the fundamentals for pre- and post-activity nutrition. Identify your weak points and set goals to correct them. Something as simple as investing in a new water bottle to improve your hydration can produce dramatic results.

Goal 2: I want to eat out less

OK, great. But how often do you want to eat out? Three times per week? Once a week? Never?

You must be specific so you can adhere to your goal. In this case, having the necessary tools is critical. Make a meal plan for your week so you won't have a night without dinner options and are forced to go out. Research a few easy meals, such as slow cooker recipes, which allow you to eat at home when you're busy. If you want to go out to eat, include the restaurant meals in your schedule so you'll know what to expect.

Goal 3: I want to lose weight

This is one of the most common goals and the one people have the hardest time with. Focusing too much on the number on the scale and not how you're going to get there sets you up for failure.

Instead, focus on your daily eating habits. Goals to consider include planning meals, packing snacks, portioning out plates ahead of time, drinking six glasses of water each day and cutting back on one sugary beverage each day. These goals are attainable and may ultimately help you see your desired number on the scale.

Goal 4: I want to get more sleep

Although it's not directly related to nutrition, sleep is a critical component of your overall health.

My first questions with a client typically focus on sleeping habits. What time do you shut off your electronics at night? What time do you have to be in bed to fall asleep by 10 p.m.? Do you have blackout curtains or a white noise machine? I ask my clients to journal every night to clear their heads. And nutrition does come into play. If you eat too close to bedtime, that may be a reason for a bad sleep. Check out the video player above to learn how to get better sleep by practicing good nutrition habits.

Although it is important to have your big picture goals in mind, thinking of things you can do each day will help you reach them sooner. Start small and implement one new change per week. Talk it through with your support team and see if it needs adjustment. Check in each month with your big picture goals, make sure they are still important and stay motivated to keep working toward them.

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