So it’s the beginning of the New Year and you’ve had the big [food] conversation with your parents. Now you want to jump-start your diet and nutrition goals for the New Year and set the tone right! But where do you start?! For beginners it’s not uncommon to be unsure where to begin.

Rest assured, you’re not alone! Being committed to a healthy lifestyle takes a transition time and hard work! Avoiding all those junk foods and starting a stricter eating regimen is NOT EASY. You need to develop a realistic plan! The best way to start eating for a healthy lifestyle is by making one or two small changes at a time to your usual eating habits. Give yourself [and family] some time and don't expect to change what you eat overnight. Keep in mind that new behaviors take up to a month to become habit. Once your first round of goals become habits, you can start to introduce new goals into your efforts.

You want to start to get in the habit of making SMART goals. Setting attainable goals that are achievable will lead to success. And success breeds success. So, before you know it, you'll be living healthier lifestyle and feeling great about your eating habits.

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

Specific – What exactly do you want to accomplish?

Measurable – How are you are going to measure it?

Attainable – Don't make your goals too hard to reach. Make your goals a series of small steps so that the end goal is easier to achieve.

Realistic – Only set goals that are reachable but at the same time challenging.

Time-oriented – Pick a timeframe for completing your goal.

After setting your SMART eating goals, it is important to reward yourself for accomplishments. It will give you something tangible to look forward to. It is best if the reward is something you only receive if you complete your goal.

Try not to use food as your reward. Try rewarding yourself with money, a visit to an amusement park, some kind of activity that keeps you moving and engaged.

Changing your eating habits can seem overwhelming, even when you know to make only one or two changes at first. Find a friend or family member to hold you to your goals. Accountability Buddies can be crucial to your success. Share your goals with them and see if they would like them – it’ll be even better if they join you in your healthy lifestyle change.

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