Eating a healthy diet is at the top of millions of New Year’s resolutions lists, but for most people, the struggle to stick to it will start before January is over. Whether the goal is to lose weight, control chronic disease or just feel a little more energetic each day, giving up ice cream isn’t easy and eating more vegetables could be even worse. The good news is that following these simple strategies can improve the odds of success.


Set Reasonable Goals

Lofty goals feel great at first, but in practice, most fall flat. Replace a pledge to lose fifty pounds in a year with a promise to have an extra serving of vegetables each day for a week. When a goal’s finish line is in view, it’s hard to procrastinate, and that makes it easier to stay accountable.


Build New Habits

If eating an extra serving of broccoli for seven days was a breeze, renew the goal for an additional week and add a new challenge like replacing one soda per day with water. With practice, small changes become habits, and that lays the groundwork for sticking to this year’s nutrition resolution.


Be Prepared

It’s easy to fall prey to the siren song of a quick cheeseburger when the schedule is tight, but it’s possible to stay on track by being prepared with fast, healthy alternatives. Fill the refrigerator with pre-cut produce at the start of the week and make one healthy entrée for a week’s worth of skinny lunches. Keep a drawer full of light snacks at work and for business lunches, check the restaurant menu in advance for the leanest selections and stick to the plan when it’s time to order.


Get Real

Too many slip-ups indicate a diet plan may be unrealistic. Schedule an occasional splurge now and then to avoid feeling deprived. Because food is such an integral part of life, the chances for a resolution mishap are high. When it happens, let the regret go and forge ahead.


Changing this year’s New Year’s resolution from eating healthy to eating healthier can make a big difference in how tough creating new habits feels and can pave for the way for slow, but permanent success.