Dietitian Takes SMART Approach to Healthy Eating Decisions | local lifestyles

SIOUX CITY – As we welcome 2022, how is your New Year’s resolution to lose weight, eat better and lead a more active lifestyle?

Well, here’s a better question: How long will you be able to keep that resolution?



According to, one in four Americans make New Year’s resolutions. About 46 percent say wanting to exercise more tops their list of personal improvement, with improved diet (45 percent) and weight loss near the top three.

So, what is the life expectancy of a New Year’s resolution? About 36 days, or a little more than a month.

These stats don’t surprise UnityPoint Health – registered dietitian Jodi Heald in St. Luke’s.

“People want to make drastic changes at the start of the new year,” she explained. “Instead of focusing on unrealistic expectations, people should see what is actually sustainable over time.”

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After all, the amount you collected from so many Christmas cookies and so many glasses of New Year’s Eve champagne didn’t happen overnight.

It makes sense that you wouldn’t lose that extra weight overnight either.

“I always advise my clients to set smart goals,” Held said.

And yes, it does mean it in a very literal sense.

SMART is an acronym for setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

“If your decision is to lose weight, make it a goal,” Held said. “You say, ‘I want to lose to lose one to two pounds. This makes it measurable.

Give yourself a time frame. You may be planning to lose 1/2 to 2 pounds over the course of a week or two. We hope that this realistic goal will be achievable and timely.

Held recommended “Write down your goals and monitor your progress.” “This way, you can see how you are doing.”

Don’t overdo it with quick fix solutions, which encourage yo-yo dieting.

Easy keys make the most sense when it comes to eating, Held said.

“A nutritious diet is a lifestyle choice,” she said. “It’s sustainable because you don’t deprive yourself.”

An easy switch would be to order a salad instead of a lunchtime salad. For an afternoon snack, eat fresh fruit instead of a bag of chips.

“If possible, cook at home instead of eating out,” Held said. “Not only is it fun, but you can control the amount and type of ingredients that go into your food.”

Worried about exercising? Remember that not everyone is meant to be an Olympic athlete.

Held insisted, “Exercise does not necessarily mean going to a health club.” “Alternatively, it could mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator while you work. Or it could be parking your car a little further into the mall than you normally would.”

Don’t forget to write down these goals, too. Plus, don’t be afraid to encourage others to join you.

Held said the “buddy system” could be particularly useful.

“Involve your wife or children, even your friends,” she said. “Maintaining a healthier lifestyle shouldn’t be something you force yourself to do. Instead, it should be something you want to do.”

Well, this definitely seems like a smart way to approach your New Year’s resolutions. Or, as Heald says, it’s a clever solution.

“Engaging in healthy choices should be a goal every day,” she said. “Not only at the beginning of the new year.”


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