Setting SMART nutrition goals
Food Wise with Heidi Morrison
Happy New Year! The new year often means new resolutions for healthy living and creating goals for changes we wish to make in our lives. When it comes to healthy eating, taking time to focus on what specific goals you would like to achieve may result in more success versus a more vague goal like “I would like to eat healthier.” Creating a SMART goal (being specific, making your goal measurable, setting small, attainable, action oriented goals, being realistic and within a time frame) can help zero in on certain behaviours and make your goals more realistic and achievable.
Specific: describing exactly what the goal is allows you to easily track your progress. For example, I will have a dark green vegetable with four meals per week.
Measurable: Recording your progress allows you to hold yourself accountable. Decide what you will measure, how you will record it and how often it should be tracked. For example, write on your calendar or day planner which meals you plan to include. Make notes of dark green vegetables you want to try & buy, use a checkmark system once you’ve eaten the vegetable.
Action: choose an action you can modify and track rather a thought or feeling. Also ensure your goal is attainable; you have the tools, resources and time to achieve that goal. For example, instead of saying “I want to reduce my sugar cravings,” planning to increase more low sugar foods (dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, bok choy, broccoli) will help start to modify your diet. Also, allow for extra time at the grocery store to review what options there are (fresh, frozen, canned) to stay within budget; ask friends or review cookbooks for recipe ideas.
Realistic: Starting with small, achievable goals can boost your confidence and allow for longterm success. Choosing to do something every day that you have not done before is less realistic than starting with a goal of a few times per week. For example, if dark green vegetables are currently very limited in your diet, choosing a few meals per week versus a daily goal is more achievable.
Time Frame: Choose a start date, allow yourself a designated amount of time to complete the goal and set a deadline. This will help motivate you to focus on tracking your goal, looking ahead to obstacles and making note of issues that arise that may affect your success. For example, choose the next grocery order day as your start date, try the goal for two weeks and then re-evaluate.
To help ensure goal reaching success, set only one or two goals at a time. Find a support buddy or good friend to connect with. Someone to bounce goal ideas off of, to get feedback from and to be accountable to, can help in feeling less isolated and more successful. Write down your reasons for wanting to achieve your goal. Review those reasons when you feel like you’re failing or having difficulty in overcoming obstacles. Stay positive! Setbacks are normal, so feel comfortable to modify your goals if necessary, and reflect on what works with your lifestyle. Good luck!
Heidi Morrison has a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition. Have a question about food or nutrition? Email healthyeat[email protected]toriastandard.ca.