Whether you’re reading this at the start of the New Year or not, I’m sure that you’d like to improve your eating habits. If you’ve ever felt lost, frustrated, or confused about how to eat healthier, this post is for you. I’ll outline the framework for better goal-setting and give you tons of concrete ideas for nutrition SMART goals. (Spoiler alert—you can totally do this!)
Having Trouble Meeting Your Goals? It May Not Be You…
Raise your hand if you…
- Do a great job with setting exciting goals, but you fall off track with them after a month or two
- Know what you want to change, but you struggle with actually doing it
- Have trouble staying motivated to keep working on your goal
- Get overly ambitious and set a huge list of goals, which ends up making you feel overwhelmed
- Keep procrastinating on your goal, so by the time you know it, the year is over and you haven’t made much progress
I’m sure we all have a hand (or two) raised by now. What if I told you the problem isn’t you? The problem is the way you set goals.
We often fail because of the high expectations we set for ourselves, not because we’re broken or incapable. What’s the secret to breaking free from unrealistic expectations and goals, you ask? Set smarter ones.
Want to learn more about setting SMART goals? Read my guide to goal-setting.
Should Your Nutrition Goal Be SMART?
It depends. If you could use some structure in your life, SMART goals are a great place to start. If you find that too much structure can feel rigid for you, it’s okay to set more general goals and intentions.
The value of setting a nutrition SMART goal (or two) is that you’ll focus on one small aspect of your diet instead of feeling like you have to do a complete diet overhaul. Changing your habits in a way that’s realistic for you can be motivating and ensure that those changes will stick!
Big List of Nutrition SMART Goal Ideas
I’ve listed some of the goals my clients have had the most success with below. Keep in mind that what’s attainable, realistic, and relevant may be different for you. That’s okay! Those factors are totally subjective.
You may notice that these goals are process-focused rather than product-focused (i.e. they’re focused on actions, not an outcome like weight loss). That’s because we have direct control over our actions, not outcomes like numbers on the scale.
Fruit and Veggie Goals
- Fill 50% of each lunch and dinner plate with colorful vegetables this week.
- Include one fruit or vegetable with each meal this week.
- Include one fruit or vegetable with each snack this week
- ‘1 for 1’ – Try one new fruit or vegetable each week for one month.
- ‘5 for 5 ‘- Aim for five fruits and/or vegetables per day on at least five days per week.
- Eat fish twice per week this month.
- Eat one meatless meal per week this month
- Include one source of lean protein with each meal this week.
- Try one new source of protein this week.
- Include a high-protein snack between meals for one week.
- Down a glass of water before each meal for the next 30 days.
- Drink half of your body weight (in ounces) of water or other unsweetened beverages on at least 10 days this month.
- Try winding down with one cup of unsweetened hot tea before bed on weekdays this month.
- Drink a cup of water before you drink coffee or tea on weekdays this month.
- If drinking alcohol, aim to include one glass of water between each alcoholic beverage on every occasion this month.
Meal Planning Goals
- Plan at least one home-cooked meal per week for the rest of the month. (Need some tips on how to make that easier? I wrote a post all about speeding up your meal prep routine.)
- Choose one new recipe to make each week this month.
- Write down or track your planned meals each day this week.
- Sit down with your family to plan out your meals each weekend this month. (If you need some convincing, here’s why planning will make your week better.)
- Pack your lunch the night before on at least 4 nights this week.
Mindful Eating Goals
- Eat at least 1 meal each day sitting down and without distractions (like phone, TV) this week. (Being distracted while eating can be a trigger for overeating in some people. Curious about how this works? Read my post on the psychology of food videos.)
- Challenge yourself to eat more than 50% of your snacks from a plate or bowl this week.
- Take 3 deep belly breaths before and after lunches this week.
- Start a food journal and write in it for as many days as possible this month.
- Read a book about mindful or Intuitive Eating on at least 3 days per week for 1 month. (My favorites are Intuitive Eating and the Intuitive Eating Workbook.)
Need more help with goal-setting and motivation? Check out these posts: