Reading a few articles my colleagues had written on best and worst new year resolutions, I was inspired to share what I have heard in my practice as a dietitian. I hope you find this article useful.
I like to share with you 3 of the most common resolutions that my clients have shared with me over the past year, and my response to them.
Resolution: I want to skip dinner in order to help me lose weight.
My Response: Instead of skipping meals, I suggest you consider choosing nutritious foods that provide you with fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Skipping dinner, or any meal, is not a good idea, particularly for weight loss! In fact, skipping meals may lead to weight gain! For most people, skipping meals causes the metabolic rate to go down. This is their body’s way of saving calories when it gets inadequate energy. What’s worse is that the body becomes more efficient at storing energy from the food it does receive because it doesn’t know when the next meal would be coming. Further, since blood sugars aren’t kept steady, individuals may experience issues with the levels of heir insulin hormone (i.e. glycemic control). From the behavioural aspect, you may find yourself binging on snacks, which may end up providing you with even more calories than a proper meal!
Suggestion: A better solution would be to choose foods that are less energy dense and more nutritious! More specifically, the focus should be on choosing foods that provide you with fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Resolution: I want to become a vegetarian.
My Response: I completely support clients who choose to become vegetarian. In fact, I encourage all my clients to focus on plant-based foods. Plant based diets are associated with reduced incidence of heart disease and protect individuals from cancer. Further, those following vegetarian diets seem to live longer!
Suggestion: When you choose to follow a vegetarian diet, it is very important that you are well educated about this eating style. More specifically, you need to know your sources of protein and vitamin B 12, which are commonly obtained by eating animal products. To get adequate protein, vegetarians should include lots of nuts, seeds, beans, dark leafy greens, soy and tofu. Sources of vitamin B12 are very limited in plant-based diets; the most common source is fortified soy beverage and other plant-based milk alternatives that have vitamin B12 added to them. If uncertain, seek advice from a dietitian.
Resolution: I will cut out all sweets and starches.
My Response: First off, is this really a sustainable change? Perhaps choosing to “minimize” your intake of sweets could be a more sustainable plan. It is also important to understand what starches are; did you know that beloved beans and legumes also contain starch? Carbohydrates provide us with essential nutrients including fibre, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, and should be included as part of a healthy diet. In fact, it is suggested that 50-60% of your daily energy intake is obtained from carbohydrates.
Suggestion: Consider choosing your carbs wisely. Replace refined sugars with whole grain products such as quinoa, pasta, oats, barley, beans and legumes, brown rice, and whole grain bread.
Before deciding on your new year resolution, ask yourself:
- why am I making this change?
- Is this change going to be sustainable?
- how you are going to make that change?
- who or what will support you in the process?
- how are you going to assess your success?
This way, you are more likely to succeed!
Happy New Year everyone!