It’s time again for those pesky New Year’s resolutions. Some statistics indicate that about 62 percent of us make some sort of New Year’s resolution. But, by mid-January we have scaled back on our original goal, and the resolution is all but forgotten by June.


It’s time again for those pesky New Year’s resolutions. Some statistics indicate that about 62 percent of us make some sort of New Year’s resolution. But, by mid-January we have scaled back on our original goal, and the resolution is all but forgotten by June.
The most popular New Year’s resolutions revolve around diet and weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation and better money management. To make your New Year’s resolution stick, most experts recommend that you set specific, small goals. If your goal is to simply eat healthier and lose a little weight, following are 10 small changes to help you painlessly achieve that goal for 2012.
1. Eat regular meals.
 When you eat every 3 or 4 hours, you are less likely to overeat. Eating breakfast kick starts you metabolism for the day. Breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated, but get into the routine of eating something for breakfast every morning.
2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
 Make half your plate vegetables at dinner; use fruit for your snacks and desserts more often than not; add a salad to your lunch instead of chips. Switch canned vegetables for frozen. Frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and frozen without any added salt or preservatives.
3. Think before you drink.
Don’t waste calories on nutritionally empty beverages like soda. Juice and milk are both healthful, but avoid drinking more than 4 ounces of juice and 2 cups of milk a day. Any more is just extra calories. Diet soda doesn’t have calories, but it may stimulate your appetite for sweets causing you to eat more.
4. Give your grains a makeover.
Not a fan of whole wheat bread? Try white whole wheat. It’s made with a special type of wheat that has a milder taste and makes finer textured breads, yet still has the fiber of regular whole wheat. Try to make at least half the cereals, pasta, rice and breads you eat whole grain.
5. Change up your meat.
 Eat less high fat, processed meats and more fish and chicken. Pass up fried meats in favor of grilled or baked. Reduce the amount of meat you eat. Remember, a portion is about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. Be adventurous and try a meatless meal once a week.
6. Go easy on the
extras.
 Use olive oil and vinegar on your salads instead of a prepared dressing. You’ll be getting a heart-healthy fat with no added sugar or preservatives. Use mustard instead of mayo on your sandwich. Mustard has no fat and saves about 100 calories per tablespoon. When eating out, ask for things like salad dressings and mayo to be served on the side.
7. Mind your portions.
 Cutting just a couple hundred calories a day can lead to a gradual weight loss. That might mean eating just one piece of toast at breakfast or skipping the chips with your sandwich. Use a smaller plate — your mind’s eye will think you’ve eaten more than you have.
8. Tame your sweet tooth.
Get out of the habit of having dessert after meals, eating sweets for snacks and drinking sweetened beverages. Use fruit for snacks and desserts; drink water or seltzer, instead of soda.
9. Shake the salt habit.
 Start paying attention to food labels and choose foods that have less sodium. Buy and eat less processed foods. Pack your lunch, instead of relying on fast food.
10. Get moving.
Start with just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of brisk walking or other workout you enjoy. Walk more in your everyday life: take the stairs, park farther away from the store, get up and move during your kid’s ballgame.
None of us are perfect, but don’t fret if you slip back into your old habits. Just start again. Small changes can add up to major health benefits throughout time, and like any habit, changes get easier with time.
Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.