Why most New Year’s resolutions fail by February and how to make them sustainable, according to dietitians

As 2023 approaches, you may be wondering whether or not you’ll pick up a healthy new habit. While we know how many resolutions fail after the start of the new year, we also know that having a clean slate feels so good when we’re trying to make a change. You may need to take a more strategic approach when deciding New Year’s resolutions for yourself in order to make a commitment with real staying power.

“Work smarter, not harder,” she advises Elyse Krawtz, MS, RDN, CSOWM, LD. “Before setting a resolution, collect a few weeks of data on your current habits without changing anything. Without this step, you have no real evidence base that you can use to inform your goals or measure your progress.”

To better understand why so many of us have trouble sticking to our resolutions, as well as how to choose a beneficial resolution worth keeping, we consulted dietitians for their expert insight. Read on for their tips on how to stick with your New Year’s resolution and, instead, make sure that any new quality habits you try to develop actually stick.

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Be realistic

We spoke to many dietitians and they all agreed that first and foremost you need to be realistic with the resolution goal you plan to set.

“Don’t try to be perfect on day one by setting yourself unrealistic goals. Unrealistic goals, like losing 15 pounds in a week or getting abs overnight, will set you up for failure,” she shares Karolin Saweres MS, RDN, LD, owner of My Nutrition&Me. “Make sure you keep your goals realistic and sustainable.”

While it’s tempting to review everything on January 1, research shows you’ll be much more likely to keep up with new habits when you consider how realistic it is to implement them. Ask yourself, “Can I see myself doing everything I’m doing today on December 31st of this year?”

“One of the main reasons I see health resolutions fail is trying to change too much too fast,” Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDNSarah Gold Nutrition’s Intuitive Food Dietitian for Moms tells Eat this, not that! “Rather than trying to overhaul your entire diet and exercise plan, focus on one new healthy habit you want to add to your life and practice it until it feels easy or natural.

Make a plan

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.” This is definitely the case when it comes to using the New Year as an opportunity to proactively change your habits. Once you’ve decided on a realistic goal that you feel confident you can achieve, it’s time to make a plan.

“One of the main reasons resolutions often fail is the lack of a solid plan to achieve the goal,” he advises Melissa Mitri, MS, RD. “For example, if your goal is ‘more exercise,’ but you haven’t considered what type of exercise you’ll be getting or when you’ll actually get it, that’s less likely to happen on a regular basis.”

“When setting your resolution, write down exactly how and when you will work towards this goal, so you can determine if it’s an achievable goal for you,” adds Mitri.

Having a plan in place is the best way to set yourself up for success by ensuring you can realistically achieve your goals. It’s also important that your plans aren’t too rigid and allow for some flexibility.

“It’s so important to avoid the ‘all or nothing’ mentality,” she says Haley Bishoff, RDN, owner of Rūtsu Nutrition in Las Vegas. “Don’t expect perfection, because changing habits takes hard work. Give yourself the mercy to pick up where you left off with your goal in mind if you get off the right track. Don’t give up completely if you make a mistake.”

Find support

Now that you’ve created your realistic goal and made a plan, the next step to solidifying an effective New Year’s resolution is to find support. Support could mean having a sense of responsibility with family and friends, hiring a dietitian or personal trainer, or creating a new environment at home that makes it easier to continue with your goals. While it’s a critical step to long-term success, many of us skip it, but doing so could potentially result in a recipe for failure.

“Lack of a supportive environment can be a barrier to achieving resolutions. It’s important that these factors don’t drag you back into old habits,” she explains Christina Badaracco, MPH, RDN, LDN.

“Surround yourself with friends, family and colleagues whose actions align with what you want to do in the future,” advises Badaracco. “Fill your space at home, work, and school with positive reinforcement, such as written reminders of your goals and reading material that aligns with them.”

Another dietitian, Dani Lebovitz, SM, RDN, CSSD, CDCESfood literacy expert and founder of Kid Food Explorers, notes a recent experiment studying the effectiveness of New Year’s resolutions found that people who have a responsible partner for social support and approach-oriented goals.

“Resolutions often fail because people don’t have a support system as they try to eliminate an unwanted outcome or behavior,” she says Dani Lebovitz, SM, RDN, CSSD, CDCES, food literacy expert and founder of Kid Food Explorers. She also notes that a recent experiment studying the effectiveness of New Year’s resolutions found that people who have a socially supportive partner and “approach-oriented” goals were more likely to succeed in making New Year’s resolutions. the new year than those with “avoidance”. targets”.

To make 2023 resolutions successful, find a support system that keeps you motivated, and create goals with a positive outcome,” says Lebovitz.

Eat this, not that

Eat this, not that

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