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Feb 24, 2012 • By

Losing weight and getting healthy

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to eat better and get in shape? You’re not alone.

“Losing weight and getting healthy” is the final trend we’re highlighting in our weeklong series of “5 Food Trends for 2012.”

For help with this trend, we turned to Tara Gidus, the “Diet Diva,” a registered dietitian and the team dietitian for the NBA’s Orlando Magic. She also has a book, “Pregnancy Cooking and Nutrition For Dummies.”

Do you think more people actually are considering making changes this year to their diets and increasing their physical activity?

Yes, I do. There have been some huge breakthroughs and pushes in the last two years regarding nutrition and exercise. I think more and more people are starting to realize the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and how it can make them feel.

Last year, the USDA came out with the new food icon “My Plate” that serves as a quick reminder to all consumers to make healthy food choices at meals. This helps people prioritize what’s important especially when eating out.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines also help to encourage most Americans to eat fewer calories, be more physically active, and make wiser food choices. Adults should aim to get 30 minutes at least five times per week. On another note for physical activity, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign has also helped promote committing to being active and eating well.

Restaurants are even making nutrition a priority because they know they are going to lose business if they don’t have healthy options to offer consumers.

Some restaurants even are putting their nutrition facts on the menus and super-sizing meals appears to be out. I notice more and more people trying to be aware of portion control and share their meals. Makes me proud!

For people just thinking about starting to eat better, regardless of their weight loss goal, where should they start in terms of changing their diet?

Two things: Choose realistic and measurable goals, and start small.

Choose realistic and measurable goals – People should strive to make goal-oriented and measurable goals that focus on the process instead of the end result. Instead of selecting unachievable and ambiguous goals, they should focus on something realistic that they can set their minds to.

For example, if they want to lose 10 pounds this year, they can do so by reducing portion sizes of foods they commonly eat or even increasing their exercise to three times per week. These are realistic things they can stick to.

Start small – Taking on too much is a common reason why so many people give up on their goals. Altering normal behaviors dramatically is a sure way to derail steps toward goals. Instead, they should try to focus on small steps that will help them to reach larger goals.

If they decide this is the year they are going to run their first marathon, start out by going out for a run around the neighborhood a few times a week. It may seem like a slow start at first, but by making the small changes first, it will increase the likelihood of succeeding at achieving the long-term goal.

In terms of actual nutrition strategies, starting small means eating small! Portion size is in my opinion the biggest contributor to obesity. Simply putting too much on your plate – no matter how “healthy” the food is. That is the problem.

Start by simply leaving a few bites behind. Stop when you’re satisfied, not full or overfull. Eat small meals and frequent snacks. Snacks are prevention – preventing you from overeating at that next meal by bridging your hunger.

Eat light and eat often. The best way to gain weight is to skip meals!

What’s the biggest mistake people make when just beginning to eat better and exercise?

People need to remember that changes take time. The habits they are most likely trying to resolve are ones they have likely been doing for years. How can they expect them to change in a few weeks?

Although a behavior change may take longer than they would like, making a commitment to change and sticking to it will help them be successful in the end!

Be patient.

The slower it comes off, the more likely it is to stay off. Create accountabilities – track your food online, set up workouts with friends, have a weekly weigh-in and stick to it.

Keep yourself accountable. Work with a registered dietitian if you want specific nutrition advice.

Editor’s note: This is the final post in a five-part series, “5 Five Food Trends for 2012,” as compiled by Consumer Insights at General Mills. Read about the other trends we profiled: “Free from gluten,” “Never shop or eat alone,” “Boomer nutrition” and “Sustainability sustains.”

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  • Alli Hearne

    Great advice!