Bad news: if you are planning to start a diet as your New Year’s resolution, you probably won’t stick to it.
It’s not your fault. Studies have shown that restrictive diets have high rates of failure, and one West Virginia University expert suggests making a few small changes to your nutrition and physical activity are more sustainable and have a larger impact on your health in the long term.
Gina Wood with the WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program offers tips on making lifestyle changes that will last.
“Diets typically ask people to make drastic changes. They are either asking you to cut out an entire food group or drastically reduce your calorie intake. They are asking too much of people. The chances of that working are pretty slim.
“Every food group has its role. The more of those things you cut out, the less nutritious your diet is going to be. It is difficult to maintain health without a full array of nutritious foods. Variety is the key.
“The first thing to think about is what kind of changes you really want to make. Some people aren’t even aware what their habits are. Maybe start with a food or physical activity journal. Look at what you are doing every day and where you can start making a change.
“Pick something small. If you notice you are only eating vegetables twice a week, start by adding another serving once or twice a week. Do something small that is realistic, because once you have one small success, you’re going to be able to build on that.
“People who are successful in terms of weight loss and improving lifestyle, it’s not the drastic changes — it’s the small changes you are able to maintain over time. Consistency leads to success. It’s about progress, not perfection.
“Check out MyPlate.gov. It has all sorts of information about the number of servings and quantities of food groups you need. It has recipes, handouts and games, and tons of nutrition information.” — Gina Wood, specialist and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program coordinator, WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program
WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program’s work is supported by the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.