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Healthy Eating Resolutions You Should Never Make

December 28th, 2018

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Making your resolutions for the New Year? We'll bet that eating healthier and exercising more are on that list.

They are two of the perennial favorites for everyone who makes resolutions. Saving more or spending less (so you can save more) also make the top of the list.

Figuring out how to spend less and exercise more isn't rocket science. Cut out that daily latte and go for a 2 mile walk are simple ways to get started on saving and exercising. But what about eating healthier? We all know about eating more grains, vegetables and fruit, and fewer desserts and snacks. What drives nutritionists wild is when we resolve to eliminate all carbs or go gluten-free or fit into those 5 year-old clothes hanging in the back of the closet.

“A common resolution that grinds my gears is when someone wants to ‘quit’ a particular food, as if it’s akin to smoking,” says Alan Aragon, a California-based nutrition researcher. He was one of several experts quoted in an article about the "6 Worst New Year's Resolutions Nutritionists Hear."

Cutting out all sugar, the most common pledge he and other nutrition professionals hear, is both unrealistic and unnecessary. “The problem with aiming to completely avoid a given food is that a black-and-white, all-or-nothing approach to dieting has been associated with disordered eating, as well as lack of weight control,” he said.

That especially goes for the gluten-free resolution. Not only is there no evidence that eliminating gluten containing grains like wheat makes for a healthier diet, there's good reason to include them. "Avoiding gluten may actually pose health risks because these foods contain important nutrients and fibers linked with heart health and digestive benefits,” Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., author of The Plant-Powered Diet, said.

Some people who have gone on a gluten-free diet report feeling better and having fewer health problems. They attribute it to the lack of gluten when it's much more likely that it's because they're diet has become healthier as a result of being more aware of what they eat.

As for fitting into those slimmer-you clothes, without a plan to accomplish that it's wishful thinking, not a real resolution.

Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., R.D., a senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center, says it's better to set a goal and be specific about how you intend to accomplish it. Your resolution needs to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. You didn't put on the pounds in a few weeks, so don't expect to shed them in just a few weeks.

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