Happy New Year everyone!
Today’s piece was written by Leeauna Duchesne, who previously wrote an absolutely exceptional piece on nutrition and the gut microbiome which I highly recommend you guys review.
Take it away Leeauna!
5 Non-Dieting Tips For A Happy, Healthy 2022
Reviewed by Andy De Santis RD MPH, Written by Leeauna Duchesne
Happy New Year! I hope everyone is embracing a fresh and positive outlook on a brand new year so far. With that in mind, I would like to introduce this article ‘Top 5 (non-dieting) New Years Tips for a Happy & Healthy 2022’ as a summary of some of the highest quality health and nutrition advice (tested by yours truly) that I think many people can find value in.
These insights are a testament to what I have learned as a dietetic intern and to what I have gathered through lived experience, personal struggles and some wins. I hope you enjoy some of my favourite insights towards integrated health.
Tip #1 Start with self-care:
You will be surprised at how effective even a small amount of daily self-care time can be for your daily routine and for your New Year’s mindset.
Small changes in self-care habits can create a ripple effect and also enhance other areas of your life like stress management, mood balance, mental health and sleep hygiene (Pilkington & Wieland, 2020).
Examples of some common self-care activities are listening to or playing music, practicing yoga, exploring nature, meditation or even a ritualistic bubble bath. There are many self-care activities you can schedule into your day and no length of time is required, but the most important thing is to actually follow through and do them.
Self-care takes practice, even if it’s 5 mins each day. These types of joyful activities will help you refocus each day and maintain a more positive outlook on your goals.
Tip #2 If you are goal-setting, don’t forget about the strategies:
This is the time of year when you can never really escape certain words like resolutions and goals…but what about the strategies that help get us to our goals and objectives?
Instead of just setting goals and leaving it at that, spend some time brainstorming and planning out the strategies after you write down your goals. Writing these strategy ideas and steps down (and seeing them visually) is a proven method that will help you to better reach the goals that you set.
Don’t forget to give yourself a realistic time-frame after you brainstorm some strategies on how you can best achieve your goals.
Tip#3 – Avoid trendy diets & banking on supplements for your health:
First, let’s start with supplements. Baking on supplements or quick fix formulas like meal replacement shakes, are attractive and popular approaches to health, wellness and weigh loss. However, they are almost always, in fact, too good to be true and do not address the real factors at play like everyday lifestyle factors.
Supplements like green tea extract, apple cider vinegar pills, or probiotics capsules, for example, can be good additions to a healthy lifestyle, but shouldn’t be where you start your journey. Instead, try to get these nutrients, vitamins, minerals and beneficial bacteria from food and drinks first before considering supplementation. It is key to build a healthy foundation day-to-day to support overall health.
Now, a little about modern diet trends. If you are looking to change or improve your diet this year, try to avoid drastic fad diets like no carb diets, zero sugar diets, or high-protein/carnivore diets, as these types are often difficult to transition to and are not sustainable for most individuals in the long-run.
These restrictive type of diets should (for most people) be worked up to and progressed towards slowly, if you are seeing benefits from them.
Overall radical changes are harder to maintain and could ultimately sabotage your goals and long-term success. It is also important to mention that these diets often cause quick weight loss and eventually quick weight regain, which is common if/when you return to your regular diet. This cycle of weight loss and weight gain can ultimately lead to a negative self-image and body-weight image disturbances that can impact your mental health (Barghouthy et al., 2021).
Try focusing on everyday lifestyle changes like cooking more of your own meals, meal planning once a week, or experiment with plant-based food swaps using your favourite recipes.
If you are looking for more of a guided experience, I would recommend sticking to evidence-based approaches. For example, evidence-based diets like The DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet are both effective and sustainable diets that are dietitian approved.
With that in mind, don’t forget that Registered Dietitians are here to guide you along the way too. Dietitians only recommend the highest quality evidenced-based information and approaches to health and nutrition (just like Andy the RD). Plus, you might even have coverage for these pros in your extended health care plan. Support is often the missing link in achieving your goals.
Tip #4 -Ease into a more active lifestyle:
If you are going to adopt a new exercise regimen or routine this year- please remember to ease into it. Nothing is more frustrating and undermining of your goals than becoming injured when you adopt a new workout plan, or try to get back into the swing of things.
When you’re feeling motivated it can be hard not to give it your all, but it is actually recommended to progress moderately and to focus on improving mobility and flexibility of muscles and joints first (American Heart Association, 2022). This strategy can help prevent muscle strain and injuries that often arise from bad form or posture that will undermine your stamina. The more you ease yourself into a new regimen week by week, the more beneficial it will be for your body (and mind) long-term.
Tip #5- Consider a Reducitarian approach to eating:
Reducitarian has been coined as the new ‘plant-based’ diet approach and focuses on the reduction (not elimination) of animal-based foods and proteins like meat, eggs and dairy. There are many individuals who have already adopted more climate-friendly eating patterns like vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian, but overall most North Americans are still frequently consuming animal sourced foods.
Luckily, climate change concerns and the need for action is helping to expand plant-based food options and innovation. So, what better way to start improving your health and diet, than to also help fight climate change at the same time.
Reducing the amount of animal protein that you regularly consume, particularly ruminant animal proteins like beef, goat and lamb/sheep, are important and effective contributions that help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change (EAT-Lancet Commision, 2019).
Eating less meat, particularly red meat and processed meat, has been proven across countless studies to help prevent and treat many non-communicable common diseases like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, diet-related cancers and related biomarkers of health (Chung et al., 2021 ; Cuparencu et al., 2019).
It is easy to add in a little more plant-based proteins each day. Try adding in pulses (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas etc.), tofu, tempeh, saitan, nuts, quinoa, spirulina etc. in your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. These are just some of the most common sustainable plant sourced proteins that are full of nutrients, versatile, cost-effective and most importantly taste really good too.
Wishing you a happy & healthy 2022,
Barghouthy, Y., Corrales, M., & Somani, B. (2021). The Relationship between Modern Fad Diets and Kidney Stone Disease: A Systematic Review of Literature. Nutrients, 13(12), 4270. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13124270
Chung, M. G., Li, Y., & Liu, J. (2021). Global red and processed meat trade and non-communicable diseases. BMJ global health, 6(11), e006394. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-006394
Cuparencu, C., Praticó, G., Hemeryck, L. Y., Sri Harsha, P., Noerman, S., Rombouts, C., Xi, M., Vanhaecke, L., Hanhineva, K., Brennan, L., & Dragsted, L. O. (2019). Biomarkers of meat and seafood intake: an extensive literature review. Genes & nutrition, 14, 35. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12263-019-0656-4
EAT-Lancet Commision. (2019). Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission. Healthy Diets From Sustainable Food Systems. Retrieved from:
Pilkington, K., & Wieland, L. S. (2020). Self-care for anxiety and depression: a comparison of evidence from Cochrane reviews and practice to inform decision-making and priority-setting. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 20(1), 247. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-020-03038-8