Healthy Habits that Stick


It’s that time of year where we resolve to start exercising, eating right, drinking more water and using more recycled bags to the store. I’m sure many of you have set resolutions or even goals. As a nutritionist and coach, I’ve seen such a range of experiences in my clients, and here are a few things I’d encourage you to consider.

  1. Why is this super-wonderful new habit really important to you now?

Knowing your motivation is a powerful thing, and can help you build in structure to stay focused on what you value most. When I see clients, one my first questions is what they’re hoping to accomplish. When the answer is “Because Dr. So and so says so” or “I know I really should” or “It would make XXX happy” it’s a big red flag and we have to dig deeper and develop personally meaningful goals.

2.    What is your baseline?

Often we don’t have a good sense of our current habits. Many people report eating veggies every day or only occasionally going on a Starbucks run, but when they record their food for a few weeks, it becomes clear that the reality is quite a bit different. I definitely recommend keeping track of food, exercise or other habits the old fashioned way with pen and paper, on a website like or or on an app like My Fitness Pal or Lose it. In fact, tracking your food is one of the top recommendations from the National Weight Control registry.


Take a look at those two pictures. Which has more food? Actually, it’s the very same food, photographed on a 11 inch plate on the left and a 9 inch plate on the right. Research shows we eat about 30% on the bigger plate. Amazing how much of a difference small choices in our environment can make! We live in a super-sized culture, and almost all of us fall prey to the ginormous sizes we see all around us. Studies show that everything from portion sizes to plates to colors or even names of food dramatically change our intake, and often small tweaks can significantly change our behaviors. If you haven’t read Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating, it’s a fantastic read with a nice mix of research and easy tools to incorporate in your daily routine.

4.   How mindful are you?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Most of us live pretty distracted lives. If we’re not paying attention to our life, we’re missing out on the fun! It’s easy to eat while checking email, watching TV, or even driving, and that cuts down on our awareness of portion and on our enjoyment of food. When we’re eating mindfully, we’re much more aware of hunger and fullness, and it’s much easier to stop eating because we’re full than because we’re only allowed a certain amount. Additionally, mindfulness has a huge range of health benefits, from improving depression, to blood pressure, to immunity to diabetes and much more. I’ve got a lot of the research on the benefits of mindful eating here.

5.   Do you have support?

Generally, healthy habits take a village. It’s easier to get up on those cold, dark mornings when you’re meeting a friend or you’ve got a four-legged friend who wants to go for a run. Likewise, it’s easier to eat well with support than constantly seeing tempting foods that are off-limits. It’s critical to build in support in person or online for a sense of accountability.



There are so many great recipe sites out here. Here are some of my favorites!

  • 101 Recipes: There are many great soup and vegetarian recipes, and many feature veggies and whole grains.
  • Dr. Weil has great healthy recipes listed.
  • Elana’s Pantry: Curious about almond flour?  Elana’s pantry should be your first stop!  She also has a lot of wonderful veggie recipes and tips for children, too.
  •  Health-e-Recipes from AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research). You can sign up for newsletters on their site, and you get weekly recipes in your inbox. Many (not all) are gluten-free and dairy free. Many are quick and simple, use seasonal ingredients, and feature a lot of veggies.
  • Meatless Monday: A great site for people who want to include more fruits, veggies, beans and fiber in their diet.
  • Kalyn’s Kitchen: Mostly low carb, and everything I’ve made has been delicious. Many food recipes (not just desserts) and many, but not all are gluten-free.
  • Simply Recipes: Simple recipes with whole, unprocessed foods. Some GF, some not, but the site has many great ways for preparing veggies.
  • Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen Healthy whole food based meals
  •  World’s Healthiest Foods: Good, basic healthy recipes.  Most are gluten-free, but you can check off the foods you want to avoid for a recipe search.
  • Ultrawellness Center –great elimination diet recipes

I have even more recipe & sites listed at  And, of course, there are more websites and resources popping up every day! Do you have a favorite healthy recipe site that isn’t listed?  Leave me a comment and let me know!


New Live Webinar on Jan 15th, 2pm-4pm EST

Join me for a 2 hour webinar on “Celiac Disease: What Every RD Should Know” through Dietitian Central.

Upon successful completion of this 2 hour course, the participant should be able to:

  • Understand the biology behind Celiac disease
  • Recognize our changing understanding of the symptoms of Celiac, prevalence, etc.
  • Describe which testing methods are scientifically valid
  • Identify which foods have gluten
  • Find gluten on labels in live exercises
  • Discuss the new laws for 2014 and how they affect clients
  • Describe current controversies around alcohol and current controversies
  • List foods at high risk of cross-contamination
  • Identify the best resources for RDs and clients

To register, see Dietitian Central’s site.

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742.

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