With the New Year, many of us reassess our health goals and set new ones. Creating a positive mindset and adopting healthy habits is a great way to usher in 2019. Below are several action-oriented tips from my upcoming book  Finally Full, Finally Slim, (Center Street, January 8, 2019) to help you eat healthier, lose a few pounds, and feel a little better.

1. Prepare the perfect plate

I specialize in portion control and help clients create a food plan which is not only healthy, but which can also help them shed a few unwanted pounds. Portion control does not mean eating tiny portions, but rather learning how to balance your plate and eat larger portions of certain foods and smaller portions of others.  Next time, you fill up your plate, I invite you to use this visual wisdom as your guide—fill up half your plate with veggies and fruit, one-quarter with healthy protein (fish, poultry, legumes, meat), and one-quarter with healthy starch (quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes). You can enjoy a full plate and still maintain good health.

2. Swap and drop

Rather than cut certain foods out of your diet entirely, and not know what to eat instead, how about swapping them out for something more nutritious? Try incorporating these smart swaps this year—grab fruit instead of guzzling down a glass of juice, choose grilled salmon steak over beefsteak, experiment with cauliflower rice instead of white rice, and try whole-grain sourdough bread over white bread.

3. Fill up on freebies

Yes, you heard me correctly! You can enjoy an abundance of free foods—I am referring to fruits and vegetables. I am a huge fan of eating more of the right foods. It will help you eat less of the wrong foods (fried chicken, cookies, cakes). I promise—no one got fat from eating too many carrots or bananas.

4. Debunk health haloes

We often get caught up with labels such as “low-fat,” “gluten-free,” and “sugar-free” and think that foods with such labels (often referred to as health halos) are not only healthier than their counterparts but that we can eat more of them. Gluten-free crackers, for instance, are still crackers, and more is not better. And low-fat ice cream is still ice cream and contains calories. My suggestion for 2019: keep an eye on your portion size even if your favorite food is labeled with words such as “free” or “low.” While you think such foods may be good for you, (and in some cases it may be), more is not necessarily better.

5. Adopt an attitude of gratitude

Health is about more than food. A good attitude helps to reduce stress, improve relationships, and may even contribute to good health. I invite you to begin this year writing down 5 things that you are grateful for each day.  The more you realize what you have in your life to be grateful for, the more grateful you naturally become.

Here’s to a terrific 2019.


LISA R. YOUNG, PhD, RDN, is an internationally recognized nutritionist, portion size expert, and adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. Dr. Young is the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim: 30 Days to Permanent Weight Loss One Portion at Time and The Portion Teller Plan and is regularly called upon by major media outlets as an expert voice on nutrition and health. She has been counseling clients for more than 20 years, blogs at www.drlisayoung.com, and inspires her community to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.

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