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UA dietitian nutritionist offers tips for keeping nutritional New Year’s resolutions


It’s been a month since Alabamians made their New Year’s resolutions. Many people may have started a new diet or made adjustments to their eating or drinking habits for 2024. Experts say, now may be the time to reevaluate goals.

48% of respondents in a survey related to resolutions in 2024 say improving fitness is a top priority, according to Forbes Health. That’s compared to just 20% of respondents whosay they keep themselves accountable when it comes to sticking to their goals. Health experts say resolutions set in the New Year typically only last 30 days. This is also true when it comes to diets.

“When it comes to a nutrition related New Year’s resolution, I always see that as any type of health goal that is related to somebody modifying their eating habits, or even their hydration habits,” said Sheena Gregg, a registered dietitian nutritionist for The University of Alabama.

Gregg said to know your limits when starting out a new health journey. This includes taking into consideration personal and family health history, as well as creating a nutritional plan that is realistic and manageable.

Gregg also stressed the importance of speaking with a professional, like a registered dietitian, before making any dietary changes. She also said to monitor things like changes in blood pressure and cholesterol when starting a new diet.

Health experts say most New Year’s resolutions relating to nutrition last less than a month. Sometimes this comes from people try to set goals for themselves that are not realistic for daily life. According to Gregg, “Small changes can yield big results.” She said it is not necessary to put into place radical changes to see health improvements.

When it comes to making these changes to diets, Gregg warned there will likely be an adjustment period for the body to get used to new habits. This can look several different ways for people, depending on what is being cut out or added to their daily diet. She said when removing or reducing caffeine intake, people may experience headaches. Additionally, the body may crave certain types of food or flavor profiles if they have been removed from a daily intake. Gregg said an encouraging mindset can go a long way when it comes to dieting.

“When we come from that negative mindset, it's going to be very difficult to maintain that,” she explained. “So instead, I tried to encourage individuals to think about that in an opposite view, where they're thinking about what they can add more of to their diet. So, if they're thinking ‘I do drink a lot of soda. I would love to start adding more water to my diet.’ Or ‘I'd like to choose grilled items more often.’ So, even just that pivot in the way that we think about that makes it a bit more sustainable,” Gregg continued. “It is a habit that can be more lasting. Because, if again, we see it in this deprivation or punitive mindset, it's going to be very difficult to keep long term.”

Gregg also said struggles with motivation can be combatted with habit tracking.

“A lot of motivation can stem from accountability groups, and even just having some form of documentation of those habits so that you can look back at certain behaviors in hindsight to track that progress,” explained Gregg.

According to Forbes Health, 49% of people in a national survey say they plan on using a fitness app for assistance in sticking to their resolutions. The outlet reports, generally, apps are the most popular tool used to maintain accountability.

The most popular tools are:

--Diet program

--Gym membership

--Habit tracking app

--Diet/calorie counter app

--Meditation app

Gracie Powell is a student intern at Alabama Public Radio. She is from the small city of Thomasville, AL, planning to graduate from The University of Alabama in May 2026. She is studying Public Relations with a minor study in General Business. In her free time, Gracie loves to listen to music, watch TV and spend time with friends and family.
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