With the start of another new year comes a swath of resolutions.
"Probably one of the most common resolutions is to lose weight," said Helen Van deMark, a dietitian and manager of clinical nutrition at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.
It's also one that's easily broken, she noted.
But failure, Van deMark added, isn't inevitable. She's offered a handy list of tips to help your reach your health goals in 2013.
Van deMark said that while many people looking to lose weight target fatty foods in their diet, they often overlook another major source of calories.
"They forget about all the calories we consume in liquid form," she said, pointing to sugary sodas, energy drinks and even fruit juices as the major culprits.
Van deMark said that drinking one sugary drink a day clocks in at about 150 to 160 calories. Over the course of a year, that works out to something in the ballpark of 55,000 calories, which translates to about 15 pounds of weight gain.Van deMark says oatmeal is a healthy breakfast option. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)
"I often call it liquid candy," she said.
Van deMark also warns about consuming pure fruit juices.
She said that while such juices often have vitamins of real fruit, they lack the fibre that makes the body feel full after eating an apple or a banana.
"You get more health benefits from eating the fruit the juice came from."
"Most people that lose weight and keep it off eat breakfast," Van deMark said.
She said people who tend to skip breakfast will often overeat later in the day to compensate.
"Eat a small breakfast and that will regulate your appetite."
Food choices for breakfast are also important, she said.Van deMark recommends breads that have whole grains and are high in fibre. (Christine T. Nguyen/Associated Press)
Sources of fibre like whole grain toast and oatmeal, as well as protein-rich foods, like peanut butter, are important.
"Generally, we find that those who are sleep-deprived put weight on," said Van deMark.
She said this is especially difficult coming out of the holiday season, when overeating combined with a sleep schedule that is often disrupted by holiday activities can lead to weight gain.
Each person has their own ideal amount of sleep that they should get each night, she said, warning that oversleeping can cause similar problems to not getting enough shut-eye.
"We see people with weight problems at both ends of the spectrum," she said.
While changing diet or sleep patterns is key to healthy living, Van deMark said one of the most important components is still exercise.
"Thirty minutes of exercise a day helps with a lot of things," she said.
She said the activity doesn't need to be strenuous, and even something as simple as going for a daily walk will wind up helping in the long term.
Eating enough fibre is an important part of a healthy diet, Van deMark said, as it is not only healthy but also makes the body feel full, which prevents overeating.
"Fresh fruits and vegetables, and at least half of the time it should be 100 per cent whole grain breads and pasta," she said, pointing out some of the most fibre-rich foods.
When picking out high-fibre breads, she said, it's best to reach for breads that have 100 per cent whole grains.
"Labels are really best used to compare products to each other," she said, adding that consumers should be buying whole grain products with the highest amount of fibre per serving.
Van deMark said one of the biggest problems is that people set resolutions that are hard to achieve.
"Don't set resolutions, set SMART goals," she said.
SMART — an acronym for specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely — is method used to set personal goals that are easier to accomplish.
She said losing 10 pounds by the end of February by walking the dog every day is a good example of a SMART goal.
"You know exactly if you've failed or not," she said. "It helps you problem-solve because you know exactly what you didn't do."