At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, millions of people will resolve to lose weight, exercise more, and eat better. But how many of these resolutions are "history" by Feb. 1?
This year, why not take a different approach? Set one resolution to do for each month throughout the year. Try each of the suggestions below for one month, or make your own list of monthly resolutions. The key is to keep new behaviors specific, doable and measurable.
January: This month, eat three servings a day of whole grain cereals, breads and tortillas, instead of products made with refined enriched flours and grains.
February: Eat canned, fresh or frozen fish eight times this month, or twice a week. Try a new fish recipe - maybe fish tacos, fish stew or salmon patties.
March: Switch from sweetened drinks to beverages without added sugar this month. One of the healthiest most affordable drinks is water, even less expensive if it comes out of the tap.
April: This month, increase your intake of fresh, frozen or canned dark green, yellow or orange vegetables, and cooked dry beans and peas.
May: Include low-fat or fat-free sources of calcium in your diet. Switch from whole to low-fat milk, and choose reduced-fat yogurt and cheese.
June: Break into summer by eating a healthy breakfast each day of this month.
July: Good job - the year is half over, and you have practiced a variety of ways to eat healthfully. Increase your intake of fruits (fresh, canned, frozen, dried or juiced) to 2 cups a day this month, with no more than 1 cup of fruit juice per day.
August: This month, choose steamed, grilled or baked dishes instead of fried foods. Trim visible fat and skin from meat and poultry.
September: Avoid salty snack foods this month. Instead, snack on fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and crackers, low-fat popcorn, brown rice cakes, graham crackers or a small handful of unsalted nuts or seeds.
October: Eat four meatless suppers this month, or one each week. Include meals with cooked dry beans, calcium-rich foods, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
November: This month, change four favorite recipes to lower their content of solid fats, added sugars, full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, and/or sodium.
December: Maintain your body weight this month. Each day, get plenty of physical activity and limit your intake of alcohol to one drink and of high-calorie foods to one serving. As the month closes, congratulate yourself for practicing 12 healthy eating habits this year. Resolve to continue to take steps to a healthier you.
To help you keep track of your healthy changes buy a notebook and keep track of your monthly resolutions (goals). Just seeing that you are successful one month will spur you on to continue your monthly resolutions. Involve your entire family in eating better and exercising more. What better gift can you give your family than a healthier life?
Adapted from New Year's Resolution Calendar, North Carolina University Cooperative Extension
Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and
consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.