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What goals should I set for healthier eating? 

“Talk to your primary care physician about setting goals for a well-balanced eating plan that can help you maintain a healthy weight,” said Elizabeth White-Fricker, DO, Catholic Health Primary Care Physician. “Making the right food choices can lower your risk for major health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.”

She emphasized that eating healthier can start any time of the year with immediate and long-term health benefits. “Often, people set goals at the beginning of the year or after their annual exam, but any time you take steps to improve your health is the right time,” she said.  

Goals can be specific to your needs, including:

  • Losing weight, especially if obese or at risk of obesity. 
  • Lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Reducing the risk for pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. 
  • Addressing nutritional deficiencies. 
  • Getting back on track, typically after a holiday break.

How do I get started with a healthy eating plan?

“Keep in mind that a healthy eating plan is more than choosing the right foods,” said Dr. White-Fricker. “You want to ensure you have a well-balanced plan that includes exercising regularly, keeping your stress levels down and getting enough sleep. It is important to make changes that you can be consistent with over time.”

Here are some tips to start your journey to healthier eating. Your primary care physician (PCP) may recommend you meet with a dietician to create a plan customized to your dietary needs and any pre-existing medical conditions.

Tip 1: Choose a mix of healthy foods.

Healthy options that will keep you full throughout the day include:

  • Beans, eggs and nuts
  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat dairy
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish

Avoid highly processed foods and foods with added sugar, saturated and trans fats and high sodium.  


Tip 2: Eat the right portions and snack healthier.

A dietician can recommend your calorie needs based on factors like age, activity level and weight loss goals. Portion control helps you to get the right amount of calories without feeling hungry. You can choose healthy snacks between meals like fruit, nuts, low-sugar yogurt and hummus with carrot sticks.


Tip 3: Prepare for shopping at the grocery store.

Grocery shopping can help you stay on track and plan your meals ahead of time. Going to the store with a list of ingredients for the planned meals will reduce the likelihood of buying foods you do not need. Avoid going to the grocery store when stressed, tired or hungry when you are more likely to buy unhealthy foods. 


Tip 4: Avoid fad diets.

Fad diets are just that — a fad. These short-lived diet trends may seem tempting when talked about or advertised on social media and the internet, but they do not teach good habits about sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Often, the lost weight returns quickly, which causes frustration and increases the likelihood of returning to poor food choices. Instead, stick to well-balanced, nutritious meals that help you maintain a healthy weight long-term. 


Tip 5: Pace yourself and give yourself credit.

Setting unrealistic goals can make it harder to stick to your goals. You do not have to see results overnight. You can start with small, incremental changes. Remember, you have taken an important step toward living a healthier life. Give yourself credit!


Tip 6: Sleep, exercise and reduce stress.

Sleeping, exercising, and reducing stress are vital in helping you eat healthier, lose weight, and sustain a healthy weight. 


Tip 7: Find a support system.

You may have friends or family who also want to make healthier eating choices. Supporting each other can help you reach your goals and offer encouragement when needed.


Tip 8: Check in with your doctor.

Keeping up with your annual exam is an essential part of your health care journey and an excellent opportunity to set healthy eating goals. Following up with your PCP will ensure you safely work toward those goals and address any concerns.

“You and your doctor are partners working toward good health for you today and into the future,” said Dr. White-Fricker. “Getting the right guidance for healthier eating and an overall healthier lifestyle can help you meet the needs of your unique goals.”


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