By: Ellen Stokes, MS, RD, LD —
Even though the holiday season is just getting underway, it’s not too early to begin making New Year’s resolutions. That’s because setting effective nutrition and exercise goals is a process that takes time and careful consideration. Sometimes when resolutions fall short, it’s not due to a lack of determination, but a failure to identify the real problem and, therefore, an appropriate solution.
Here are some examples of resolutions that miss the mark along with my analysis of what should be done instead:
Analysis: Eating too many carbs is not the main problem here. This couple is consuming excessive calories from all sources and drinking too much. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, almost as much as fat at 9 calories per gram. Also, too much alcohol can damage your liver and blood vessels.
Better New Year’s resolutions: Follow the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations in meal planning. Also, limit drinking to no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.
Analysis: Muscles grow larger by being used, not because you’re eating extra protein. Overeating from any source, including protein, can lead to overweight/obesity. Also, too much protein can damage your kidneys.
Better New Year’s resolutions: Enlist the help of a registered dietitian nutritionist to work out a well-balanced eating plan. Also, find a qualified personal trainer who can oversee a weight training and aerobic exercise program.
Analysis: Personal trainers — unless they have a degree in nutrition — are not qualified to give dietary recommendations. Also, in many states, it’s illegal for an unlicensed person to give nutrition advice. As for the internet: there are great resources online, but there’s also an abundance of misinformation. Fructose is an excellent example. Social media often unfairly blame it for the obesity epidemic or for causing increased appetite even though there are no well-conducted scientific studies supporting those claims.
Better New Year’s resolution: Get your nutrition information from reputable sources and then stick to their advice. A meeting with a registered dietitian nutritionist is an excellent first step. The USDA’s SuperTracker site can also be a good place to start. There, you can enter the foods and beverages you consume each day and the site will give you a personal plan that shows your daily food group targets including what and how many servings to eat within your calorie allowance.
Ellen Stokes, MS, RD, LD is an award-winning video producer, director, and writer in addition to being a registered dietitian. Ellen writes and creates videos about nutrition education, food safety, menu planning, grocery shopping, and healthful cooking on a budget. Ellen has worked with organizations and companies including WebMD, the Partnership for Food Safety Education, and the University of Georgia Food Science Department. Ellen formerly worked for CNN as a writer and producer and teaches food safety and nutrition for Georgia State University. Check her out on Twitter @EllenS_RD.
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