by Jamie Vallone, RD, CDN

Every year approximately half of all Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. For some this can mean traveling more, for others it can mean getting more sleep, but one of the most common resolutions is to lose excess weight. Being at a healthy weight is important for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, and also is important for overall health. This can be especially hard after the heavy eating that is common during the holidays, but with the right tactics you are more likely to reach your goal weight.

Determine your healthy weight – According to the CDC, a healthy weight is defined as a BMI of 18.5-24.9, which is a measurement of weight versus height. Keep in mind there are many factors that contribute to an individual’s healthy weight and BMI is just one estimate. Talking to a Registered Dietitian can help you target what is a healthy weight for you.

Check the label – Many food products have a Nutrition Facts label that lists information such as the calorie and fat content for a serving size of food. It can be difficult to know what is considered healthy but the truth is in the label. Unless you have received specific instructions from your doctor or are on a special diet, try picking items that are:

oLow in saturated fats (less than 10 percent of calories per day should come from saturated fats)

oLow in sodium (less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day is recommended)

oHigh in fiber (aim for at least 25-30 g per day)

oContain protein to help you stay feeling full longer

Eat more fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are considered nutrient dense foods, which means they provide high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber with fewer calories. Try adding extra vegetables to dinner recipes and eating fruit for a healthy snack.

Monitor portion sizes – Look up the standard portion size of the food you eat. Measure and separate the recommended portion size into single serving bags to help monitor your calorie intake.

Drink more water – Water is important for staying hydrated and it can also lower your calorie intake by making you feel fuller. Try drinking a glass of water before meals.

Plan meals – You can run into trouble when you’re on the go and don’t have much time to eat. If you have a meal already planned and prepped, you won’t be at a loss at dinner time and will be more likely to make a healthy choice. If you know you will have to eat on the run, do some research to find healthy options that will be nearby.

Get moving – Exercise burns calories to balance food eaten, in addition to many other health benefits. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes five times a week. Always talk to your doctor prior to beginning any exercise plan.

Making any of these changes can help you get closer to your goal weight and feel ready to take on the New Year. If you find yourself having trouble getting started, ask a friend or family member to get involved and motivate each other!