The dawn of a new year marks a great time to turn over a new leaf. Many people begin a new year by making resolutions, and aspiring to eat healthier is annually among the most popular pledges health-conscious individuals make.

A recent Statista survey of hundreds of people across the globe found that eating healthier was the second most popular New Year’s resolution of 2023. In fact, 50 percent of respondents indicated they set goals to eat healthier in the year ahead. Though each year is different, it’s fair to assume a similarly large percentage of resolution-minded individuals will aspire to eat healthier over the next 12 months. As people begin their journeys to a healthier lifestyle, they can consider these strategies to stay the course with a new diet.

Do not eat too close to bedtime. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating more of a day’s total energy intake in the evening is associated with a higher risk of being overweight or obese. The researchers behind the study concluded that eating more of the day’s energy intake at midday can lower the risk of being overweight or obese. Individuals are more likely to stay the course when they see positive results, so try to eat dinner several hours before bedtime and resist the urge to snack after dinnertime.

Treat yourself, but only periodically. It’s unreasonable and potentially counterproductive to completely avoid foods seen as treats. Cutting out indulgent foods may seem appropriate, but such an approach could make you miserable, and a diet that sparks feelings of misery will prove harder to commit to than one that allows for the occasional indulgence. Moderation is the name of the game, and that should be a rule of thumb for both healthy foods and indulgences. Don’t make indulgences part of your daily routine, even if you eat them in moderation. Rather, save treats for special occasions, and even then only eat them in moderation.

Consider eating less, but more frequently. Data is conflicting in regard to eating smaller but more frequent meals. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that individuals who had six or more eating occasions in 24 hours had a lower mean body mass index than people who had four or fewer eating occasions in 24 hours. The researchers behind the study concluded that eating a larger number of small meals throughout the day may be associated with improved diet quality and lower BMI. This approach is commonly referred to as “grazing,” and some research has indicated it has no metabolic advantage over other approaches to eating. So, what to make of the mixed results? Dieters can decide for themselves and eat more frequent but smaller, healthier meals to combat hunger pangs that can arise when switching to a new diet. If hunger is no longer posing a threat that can derail your diet, then this approach might increase the chances you stay committed to eating right.

Millions of people will begin January on a quest to eat healthier in the year ahead. Some simple strategies can help them stay the course as they adjust to a new diet.

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