If you hope to keep your food-and-drink-based New Year’s resolutions going in February and beyond, these tips can help keep you motivated. We consulted three experts and compiled their advice here: Stephanie Zahares, a registered dietitian and nutritionist based in Gray; Debbie Pepper-Dougherty, a registered dietitian at DPD Nutrition Consultants in Cumberland Foreside; and John Norcross, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton and author of “Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing your Goals and Resolutions.”

Make realistic, attainable goals and develop a plan for reaching them. Setting smaller, benchmark goals along the way like, “This week I will eat one extra serving each of fruits and vegetables per day,” can help.

Expect occasional slips. The important thing is to pick yourself up and recommit, and to have a “slip plan” ready. In a study Norcross conducted, 71 percent of those who successfully followed their resolutions said their first slip actually strengthened their resolve. Avoid blaming yourself after a slip; frequent self-blame predicts who will give up quickly.

It’s easy to find extrinsic motivators to eat better. Maybe your doctor says you need to eat better to lose weight. But you’ll also need intrinsic motivation. “Both can be good,” Zahares said, “but if you don’t have that internal reason for why you’re trying to change, you might not be as successful.” An intrinsic motivator, for instance, might be wanting better health so you can keep up with your grandchildren.

If your ultimate goal is significant weight loss, don’t be daunted and don’t use the scale to judge your progress. Instead, think about short-term benefits: Do you feel better? Do your clothes fit better? Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping better?

If you are eating or drinking too much, or eating the wrong things, figure out why. If stress is a trigger, for example, find other ways to handle stress.


Reward your successes with a healthy treat.

Put appropriate foods in view and get the cookies, crackers and chips – or whatever you’re trying to eliminate — off the kitchen counter at home or out of the break room at work.

Consider finding a dietitian, or someone else who is knowledgeable about nutrition but doesn’t food shame, to check in with periodically. “A lot of people feel they should be able to do it on their own,” Pepper-Dougherty said, “but talking with someone and keeping present is going to help.”


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