Nourish Your Noggin with These 5 Brain Foods

The human brain is one of our most powerful and valuable organs. Though it accounts for only 2% of our body’s total weight, the brain requires a lot of energy and several key nutrients to function at its best. Last month, I had the opportunity to talk about nutrition for brain health on Local Memphis Live, and of course, I didn’t want you to miss out, so here are 5 brain-boosting foods to help you ensure your noggin stays nourished…

berries, brain food, antioxidantsBerries

Berries contain flavonoids, a specific group of potent antioxidants that give berries their beautiful colors. They also play a role in numerous cognitive skills like learning and decision making all while protecting brain cells from oxidative damage.

Incorporating berries into yogurt, oatmeal, or salads not only adds fresh, natural sweetness. Berries also contain antioxidants that help boost cognition, coordination, and memory.

Think you can only get a brain boost from berries during summer months? Think again…You can get your berry fix year round! Buy them fresh in the summer, frozen in the winter.

Eggs Brain Food


If you’ve been avoiding eggs out of concern for the cholesterol and/or fat content, it’s time to add them back in. Research is now suggesting that eggs do not contribute to cardiovascular disease risk. In fact, our brains need cholesterol and fat to function at their best. With the brain being our fattiest organ, made up of 65% fat, including 25% of our body’s total cholesterol, you can be confident eggs are an egg-cellent choice and nutritional powerhouses.

Eggs contain choline, one of the superstar brain nutrients that many Americans are deficient in. Choline is necessary to produce acetylcholine, which plays a critical role in memory. For example, studies have linked acetylcholine deficiencies to memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

Eggs also contain B vitamins, folate, and vitamin D…nutrients that play a crucial role in brain health.

Tempted to ditch the yolk? Don’t do it! Eat the whole egg as the yolk contains most of the nutrients your brain needs. Plus, the protein and fat is likely to keep you satisfied much longer than that morning bagel alone!

Salmon, Brain Food


When you’re researching (or googling) “what to eat for brain health,” you’ll begin to notice that DHA or omega-3 fatty acid is one of the single most important elements required for optimal brain health. With the brain being made mostly of fat, our brains need those Omega-3’s!

Omega-3s are strongly anti-inflammatory which is great news as inflammation has been linked to multiple mental health concerns. For example, increased Omega-3 intake may help to alleviate a spectrum of mental health concerns, from anxiety and irritability to depression and even schizophrenia. In contrast, insufficient DHA is a potential factor in depression, bipolar disorder, premature brain aging, age-related cognitive decline, brain shrinkage, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Omega-3 fatty acids containing DHA can be found in oily fish like wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, and tuna. These types of fish are also excellent sources of protein which is needed to form mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine as well as B12, an essential vitamin for a healthy brain and nervous system. It’s ideal to include these types of fish twice per week.

Walnut, Brain Food


Well, if you hadn’t noticed yet, the low-fat diet trend has officially been a “big fat failure,” especially when it comes to brain health. So many “brain foods” are loaded with healthy fats, and walnuts are no exception…plus, they look like little brains!

Walnuts contain a number of compounds that protect our neurons from injury or degeneration, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. Bottom line: Research shows walnut consumption may support brain health.

Snack on walnuts, sprinkle them into your oatmeal, or even try out one of my favorite recipes: Walnut & Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken.

Steak, Vitamin B12, Brain Food


That’s right…BEEF is a brain food! Meat eaters can get a brain boost from beef, which provides plenty of energizing and balancing B vitamins, specifically B12 which is only found in animal foods.

Low B12 levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory loss. If your levels are lower than they should be, you may also experience symptoms like poor memory, depression and fatigue, so fire up the grill and enjoy this nutritious and delicious meat!

I recently came across a quote that said, “Essentially, fats build your brain, and proteins unite it. Carbohydrates fuel your brain, and micronutrients defend it.” Even though this post highlights only 5 specific foods, it’s clear that there are many more that give our brains a boost, so So if you want to keep your mind nourished and healthy, getting a variety and balance of nutrients is a no-brainer!

What’s your favorite brain food and how do you incorporate it into your meals or snacks?

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Food Allergies: The Numbers and How You Can React with Respect!


My knowledge of food allergies and the importance of being sensitive to those with food allergies has increased exponentially since my husband was diagnosed with a shellfish allergy and my son was diagnosed with allergies to eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts years ago. We unfortunately learned about some of their allergies the hard way, whereas others were diagnosed in a doctor’s office. As a Registered Dietitian, I had received training and counseled those with food allergies prior to these diagnoses, but there’s nothing that deepened my awareness, understanding, and compassion more than personally experiencing food allergies in my family.

This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is “React with Respect.” The goal of Food Allergy Awareness Week is to help inform the public about the serious consequences of food allergy reactions, as well as how to identify symptoms and respond in case of an emergency. If you are a parent, child, friend, co-worker, school teacher or administrator, employer, friend, roommate, or caregiver, you need to know about food allergies and how to react with respect.

So let’s talk about the numbers when it comes to food allergies and how, in light of those numbers, you can react with respect and sensitivity to individuals with food allergies…

Food allergies affect up to 15 million Americans.

Food allergies affect up to 15 million Americans.

Food allergies affect 6 million children.

That includes nearly 6 million children.

React with Respect

Learn how to recognize the symptoms of allergic reactions and how to respond in case of emergency.

A reaction to food can range from a mild response (such as an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S.

A reaction to food can range from a mild response (such as an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S.

Here’s a personal story…

When my little boy was diagnosed with his food allergies, he was only 8 months old. I was eating a graham cracker with peanut butter at the kitchen table when he started getting fussy. Without hesitation, I picked him up and put him in my lap to soothe him and continued to finish my snack. Soon after, it was time for his nap. My husband took him upstairs and began rocking him to sleep, but our little guy was crying and fussy. His lips began to swell, and he broke out in hives. Recognizing this was likely an allergic reaction (and admittedly totally unprepared), we immediately took him to the emergency room for treatment and to an allergist soon after for testing where he was diagnosed with his other allergies. We were only one of those emergency room visits, and we were so fortunate that our son recovered has been healthy ever since.

React with Respect

Refrain from eating your friend’s/coworker’s/classmate’s allergen when you are around them.

8 foods account for 90% of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.

8 foods account for 90% of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.

React with Respect

When planning celebrations, meetings, outings, etc. that involve food, be sure to ask about food allergies to ensure each person will be able to eat safely.

According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.

According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.

React with Respect

Understand that food allergies are not a choice and that individuals and families who are affected must take special precaution to protect themselves and their loved ones. Be patient and flexible as those affected by allergies must ask lots of questions and be careful about eating out.

1 in 13 children has a food allergy. That’s 2 in every classroom! Prevalence is increasing, so more kids have allergies than in the past.

1 in 13 children has a food allergy. That’s 2 in every classroom! Prevalence is increasing, so more kids have allergies than in the past.

React with Respect

Support other parents by asking about food allergies before sending food to the classroom, and respect school rules regarding food allergies.

Memphis Nutrition Group is excited to have partnered with the Food Allergy Alliance of the Mid-South (FAAM), an organization that promotes food allergy awareness year ’round! My partner and fellow Registered Dietitian Brigid Kay and I now serve as Nutrition Advisors to this fabulous organization, and we’d love for you to join the FAAM!

Here’s a little more information…

FAAM’s goal is to make resources available to our food allergy community that focus on:

  • the immediate support needs of the newly diagnosed
  • ongoing support and education for food allergy families
  • community education and training
  • advocacy on local and national levels

FAAM plans on reaching these goals by:

  • hosting community support meetings for food allergy families
  • connecting newly diagnosed families with resources
  • working with local resources to host special events
  • creating and maintaining relationships with local board certified allergists, health professionals, schools and community organizations
  • maintaining FAAM’s relationship with community members through this website, our email list, and social media
  • joining forces on local, state and national levels to advocate for those affected by food allergies

Are you interested in joining FAAM? Head over to FAAM’s website, simply share a little about yourself, and you’ll receive regular emails about meetings and events, newsletters. FAAM will also notify you about volunteer and advocacy opportunities as they become available.

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How do you “eat an elephant”, enjoy a burger, and achieve a healthy lifestyle?

National Nutrition Month, How to Eat an elephant, enjoy a burger, and achieve a healthy lifestyle Imagine looking at a juicy hamburger that is piled high with cheese, avocado, veggies, and all the fixin’s. While thinking about how delicious the burger looks, you approach it with one major reservation and ask yourself the tough question: “How in the world am I going to wrap my mouth around that first bite?” You may have a similar feeling when it comes to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

March is National Nutrition Month. I wrote an article last year for Good Health magazine to support the 2015 theme: “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” I thought I would repost the article here although this year’s theme is “Savor the flavor of eating right.”

When it comes to nutrition, it is difficult to know how to begin the journey toward healthier eating habits and it’s easy to “miss the forest for the trees” as the proverbial saying goes, especially when we are overwhelmed with mixed or distorted messages about nutrition and overall health.

You wouldn’t give up your hopes of eating that delicious burger just because it seemed too big, would you? Don’t give up on a healthier lifestyle either! While it’s easy to get bogged down wondering about all the details, take a step back and focus on the big picture in order to determine what’s most important and where to set your first goals when it comes to nutrition.

Focus on real food.

Memphis Nutrition Group defines real food as “anything that can be grown or killed.” You can’t get much more straightforward than that definition!  (Thanks, Leslie Schilling!) Are you eating primarily real food or processed food products? Sometimes a healthy lifestyle can be as simple as getting back to the basics when it comes to food selection.

Find a balance.

A healthy lifestyle does not mean thinking in terms of absolutes: all or nothing, good or bad, and “should” or “shouldn’t.” Rather than only having two options, there are many more choices that fall somewhere within the spectrum and provide balance. Finding balance means choosing nutrient-rich, real foods most of the time and sometimes selecting and savoring foods you enjoy regardless of nutrient quality too.

Foster progress, not perfection.

How do you define progress? Progress toward a healthy lifestyle is not always related to the number of pounds lost or the amount of willpower exhibited. No one’s diet or lifestyle will ever be perfect, so try not to judge or be too hard on yourself.

Remember: Habits take time to form and sometimes even longer to break; therefore, the journey to a healthy lifestyle requires patience and acceptance of where you are in the process. How do you “eat an elephant”, enjoy a burger, or achieve a healthy lifestyle? Take one bite at a time, setting realistic goals in order to yield satisfying, lasting results in the end.


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The Journey to Memphis Nutrition Group

December 2, 2015 started out a normal day. I was in the office seeing clients and looking forward to meeting with Leslie and Brigid later that afternoon. Leslie mentioned coming into the office a little early before our meeting, but I was a little surprised when she popped in and quickly said, “Come sit down. I have news.” I responded asking, “Good news or bad news?” Leslie replied, “Good news and challenging news.” My heart started beating a little faster as a million questions raced through my mind.

The next thing I knew, she was sharing that her husband got an incredible position at UNLV and that she would be moving to Las Vegas. Now, I’ve had special training in counseling skills, and I think Leslie took my seemingly calm reaction as having a good “therapy nod.” On the inside, I was in shock. In a fraction of a second, I’d asked myself…What would happen to the practice she’d built over the last 9 years? What would happen to our clients? What would happen to Brigid’s and my job? There were many different routes we could’ve taken, but in that moment, I knew without a doubt the business had to continue.

Here’s why…

Schilling Nutrition Therapy was never really a business to me. It was a passion that developed from my own recovery journey. Leslie and I met many years ago (before she even started Schilling Nutrition Therapy) when I hit rock bottom in my relationship with food and my body. At that time, she became my Nutrition Therapist. Leslie counseled me through my entire recovery, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be today or what in the world I’d be doing if it weren’t for her guidance out of disordered eating and into Intuitive Eating…which now just feels like eating. While I was still seeing Leslie, she began Schilling Nutrition Therapy all on her own.

It was also during the time I was meeting with Leslie that I decided to take a leap of faith and change my major to Dietetics & Nutrition. Believe it or not, I started college as an art major and stuck with it through the end of my sophomore year of college. The thing that was holding me back was not just the idea of losing my scholarship…it was tackling a ton of Chemistry. I finally decided that if I was truly becoming passionate about nutrition, I shouldn’t let a few years of chemistry hold me back.

I got to a point in my recovery that I didn’t need regular nutrition therapy appointments, but Leslie frequently checked-in with me to see how things were going with school and in life. I’d run into her from time to time at professional meetings and church, and I remember getting coffee with her shortly after finding out I was pregnant with my son. She shared with me that she’d hired another dietitian named Brigid Kay who had been working with her for a while by that point. She’d also had a child of her own. (It was later I’d find out that Leslie’s husband had already been offered a position at UNLV which he’d turned down because Leslie was on bed rest, and the timing just didn’t seem right for their family or the business.). At that time, a friendship began to form between the two of us.

Side Note: I had shared many times with my husband, Bret, that my dream would be to work with Leslie and eventually own a private practice. Though Bret believed in me, I never thought Leslie would consider hiring me, one of her previous clients. I also knew I’d never want to compete with her, so we’d probably have to move if I wanted to start my own business (because I just knew Leslie would never move).

Shortly after having my son, I went back to work full time. I was surprised to discover what a difficult adjustment this would be for me. I began to re-evaluate many aspects of my life, including my career. It was at that time, I received a Facebook message that changed my life forever…


That’s right…I immediately took a screen shot (pictured above), sent it to my husband, and asked Leslie how soon we could meet. I began working with Leslie and Brigid at Schilling Nutrition Therapy very soon after and haven’t looked back. I began to see God’s plan for my life and the reason for the struggles I had faced begin to unfold. (Disclaimer: Leslie worked with professional supervisors in making her decision to hire me. Though a somewhat controversial scenario, Leslie felt confident in her decision. I’m so thankful she believed in me.)

Fast forward again to 2016…

By now, you likely have a better understanding of why I felt so certain we had to continue. I’ll spare you the details of the last 4 months (though they’ve likely been the most challenging (as Leslie predicted), bittersweet months of my life, and get to the big announcement…

Schilling Nutrition Therapy is now Memphis Nutrition Group!

Memphis Nutrition Group Logo

I am so excited and so full of gratitude that Brigid and I were given the opportunity to continue serving our clients and our community as owners of Memphis Nutrition Group! I see God’s hand so intricately weaving all of this together as it never could’ve happened without a very specific series of events in each of our lives. For me to come full circle from a client to co-owner of the very practice that probably saved my life is such an incredible testament not just to Leslie but ultimately to God.

I couldn’t ask for a better, wiser partner than Brigid in this journey moving forward. A huge dream of mine has come true though Memphis will miss Leslie dearly (not to mention how much Brigid and I will miss her). We feel honored to carry the practice forward, and I, personally, have been claiming this verse:

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20

Thank you

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to all who have supported us through each part of our lives and journeys toward this moment! We hope you will continue to support us as we embark on a new portion of the journey yet with the same philosophy and the same dedication to service to our clients and community as always. Your kind words, referrals, visits to our social media pages and website mean the world to us, and we’re thrilled to finally share our big news with all of you!

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Wait…Why are we talking about my weight?

Raise your hand if you look forward to going to the doctor…

People, Weight Bias, Weight Stigma

Me neither.

Not long ago, I had a check-up that I had been dreading more than usual. I contemplated canceling several times. As I was considering whether or not I would go to the appointment, I thought about all that would be done at the check-up. One of the first things that came to mind was getting my weight checked. Lately, I’ve encouraged several of my clients to decline weighing at the doctor’s office if not medically necessary for their care as few of my clients look at the number on the scale as “interesting data.” I felt convicted to practice what I had been preaching to my clients, so I pondered what it would be like if I said “no” to the scale that day. When I started thinking about speaking up and not getting weighed, I -much to my surprise- started to feel nervous…my heart was beating fast!

I’ve had clients share that it’s easier to just get weighed to avoid getting questions or receiving funny looks from the nurse who is in charge of getting vital signs. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. I, too, was wrestling with the idea of refusing to be weighed! Many people fear making their doctor mad, seeming ungrateful for their help, or acting like they know more than their doctor. I’ve also had clients share that they were treated differently after refusing to be weighed at a doctor’s appointment, but it wasn’t until this particular day that I began to understand why my clients struggle so much with the scale in the doctor’s office.

I chickened out.

It truly felt easier to just step on the scale that day. The nurse took note of my weight. I saw my doctor, expressed my concerns, and attempted to get my questions answered. During my appointment, the doctor was not particularly forthcoming with lots of helpful information, but I was – for some reason- completely shocked at what she was forthcoming about. Right before walking out of the room, she decided to tell me, “And just so you know, you’ve gained [x] pounds over the last year.”

I stared at her blankly, basically in shock, wondering why she felt the need to tell me this information. I certainly hadn’t asked about my weight. Before I could formulate a response (or close my mouth after my jaw had dropped), she continued, “You’re still fine. It’s just something I tell everyone just so they know.” I think I managed to utter an puny “OK?” before she left the room.

Immediately, I was so disappointed in myself. I began thinking of all the things I should’ve said in that moment. Even more, I began thinking about my clients and the weight bias and weight stigma they have experienced. My weight remains in a range that is deemed “healthy” or “normal” by the medical community’s [sometimes arbitrary] standards, so IWait...Why are we talking about my weight? Weight Stigma & Bias by Healthcare Providers cringed thinking about how this conversation may have gone for a person who was considered “overweight” or “obese.” I thought to myself, “No wonder people decide to delay or avoid medical care!

I also thought about those who have struggled to gain the weight they need to be healthy. Hearing this comment could’ve been a major trigger for them. What if a patient gains muscle, making them stronger and healthier? What if the patient was recovering from an eating disorder? What about all of the other factors that can lead to weight gain?

Apparently, I’m not the only one who felt terrible about this one-sided conversation. It’s estimated that 20-30% of people will be strongly impacted by weight stigma from professionals but will not speak up for themselves, even when they know the truth about weight and health and want to be treated accordingly. The percentage is probably higher for those who receive unsolicited comments about their weight.

When it comes to weighing and weight, what can healthcare providers say and do to respect their patients?

What will I do differently next time (and what could you do in a similar situation)?

  • Plan and rehearse some responses beforehand to prevent being caught off-guard and subsequently left speechless when comments about weight are made or when asked to step on the scale.
  • Ask my provider, “How is my weight connected to the medical problem I have?”
  • Do my best to remain calm and engaged throughout the conversation. Ask as many questions as are needed to fully understand my provider’s perspective and assess whether or not it lines up with the research.
  • Consider sharing research with the provider.

Unsolicited comments about weight are not appropriate. Period. Fortunately, I’m at a point in my life where I feel confident and content with my health, shape, and size. It certainly hasn’t always been that way for me, and I’d venture to say it isn’t that way for most people in this world. As I look back on this experience, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my perspective and hopefully prevent similar doctor’s office incidents. I’ve learned a lot from this recent check-up and couldn’t let it go before sharing it with you.

I’d love for you to send me your feedback and share your experiences. Have you ever been the recipient of an inappropriate comment about your weight? If so, how did you respond?

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Fight the Good Fight: Health Heroes vs. Diet Industry Villains

What makes a hero?

A hero could be someone who saves lives or protects society from evil (like Superman), and a hero could also take the form of the person you strive to be. Either way, a hero is someone who departs from society’s norms to accomplish a greater goal.

Diet Industry & Nutrition Misinformation “Villains”

We live in a fast-paced world where – sadly – diets have become the norm, and the focus has shifted to appearance and numbers (weight, BMI, calorie-counting, etc.) rather than overall health. We are accustomed to obtaining answers to our questions in a single Google search or a quick click on the Internet. Let’s face it…our society prefers simple answers and fast results. Americans have spent billions of dollars supporting the diet industry that emphasizes quick weight loss rather than long-term health. The marketing of diets is alluring, but research suggests the diet industry promises way more than it can deliver in terms of lasting weight management and health.

In addition to easy answers and immediate results, our society takes great interest in food and nutrition; however, nutrition misinformation runs rampant in our culture. Since we’re still going with the “hero” metaphor, you could say the diet industry and nutrition misinformation serve as “villains.” They perpetuate the destructive diet mentality. It seems most nutrition-related messages come from the media, friends, and family, but how often do they come from Registered Dietitians? Furthermore, how many nutrition messages come from nutrition experts who reject diets, instead advocating a real food, non-diet approach?

What would life look like if we became our own heroes, fighting and conquering these “villains” who shamelessly promote the diet mentality?

What if we moved away from focusing on numbers as measures of success and instead focused on health, self-care, and fueling well?

Sharaze Colley, a client, blogger at “Passing Pinwheels”, and certainly a hero in my book writes about her experiences in moving toward health and diet freedom. She states, “I haven’t had to count calories or drastically change my diet. I don’t stress. There’s almost no real limits to what I am ‘allowed’ to eat. It’s nice. And freeing.”

Rejecting diet industry villains does not have to be complicated. In fact, diets usually end up being more complicated than a real food, non-diet approach. Though this approach often takes longer and requires perseverance, it ultimately leads to a lifetime of better health, stronger metabolism, and peace with food.

Colley states, “And that’s the amazing thing. I’m eating more. I’m not starving all the time. Fad dieting tells me the opposite should be happening, that the answer is always ‘eat less, exercise more.’ But that’s not always the case…I’m starting to think it generally isn’t that simple… something I know, but hard to actually live by because of all the messages I get all the time about food being the enemy.”

During the process of rejecting the diet mentality, remember…even Superman had his kryptonite. Likewise, sometimes the number on the scale or the nutrition label can become our kryptonite, blinding us to our progress toward health and peace with food.

Heroes are not immune to doubt, fears, and trials, but they ARE willing to face the things that scare them like moving away from diets and numbers in order to reach a greater goal. Don’t fall victim to the diet mentality another day! Become the hero who stands up to this villain and fights for overall health and peace with food.

*Note* This article was originally written for Good Health Magazine. I made some minor changes before posting here. Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

How to Make SMART New Year’s Resolutions

How to Make Smart, Realistic New Year's Resolutions

There’s good news and bad news related to New Year’s resolutions…

The bad news: A Journal of Clinical Psychology study reported that 54% of people give up on their resolutions within 6 months, and only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolution by the end of the year.

The good news (if you’re still reading…): Another study published in the same journal stated that people who-despite the statistics-make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who don’t make resolutions at all.

It seems many people have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions, and in my professional opinion, I can see how certain types of resolutions can backfire…especially those centered around strict rules and all-or-nothing thinking.

On the bright side, New Year’s resolutions can be made in a “SMART” way, so based on the research…I’ll go out on a limb and say:  Don’t stop making New Year’s resolutions!

Author Terry Felber sums up a common problem associated with New Year’s resolutions in one sentence:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not going to like where you end up.”

The absence of a clear plan for how to follow through with New Year’s resolutions ultimately leads to a feeling of failure days, weeks, or months after the new year. Although many people have an end result (the resolution itself), in mind, they don’t have a plan for how to get there, so…

How do you make a resolution that leads you toward your desired destination and defies the statistics?

  • Avoid diet resolutions and those that focus on a number on the scale. Since 95% of dieters regain their lost weight within 1-5 years, choose to shift your focus to resolutions that lead to long-term health instead.
  • First, decide where you want to end up. For example, many of my clients want to learn to “Eat healthier.” Notice how vague this is? From here, begin formulating a plan. I’ll help you with this…just keep reading…
  • Since eating healthier encompasses numerous actions, choose ONE behavior you’d like to change. If one behavior doesn’t seem like enough, remember this:

“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” -Tanzanian Proverb

  • Consider the following as you plan a “SMART” resolution:

SPECIFIC (Who, What, Where, When, Why?): Get specific about which behavior you’ll work on changing first. For example, “I will eat more balanced, home-cooked dinners each week to support my goal of eating healthier.”

MEASURABLE (How will you know you’ve accomplished your resolution?): Decide the number of dinners you’d like to eat at home per week. For example, “I will eat dinner at home 4 nights per week.”

ATTAINABLE (What are the steps to reaching your goal?): What will it take to serve a home-cooked dinner 4 nights per week? You’ll likely need to schedule time to plan meals, repurpose leftovers, make regular grocery store trips, and cook dinner. Having a plan is key!

REALISTIC (How motivated are you? What are the obstacles and how will you overcome them to stay on the path to reaching your goal?): Do you hate planning meals? Sign up for an online service like to get weekly nutritious dinner menus and recipes delivered to your inbox.

TANGIBLE (How will you experience your resolution or know you’ve reached your goal?): You will be cooking and eating dinner at home more often.

With any resolution, no matter how “SMART” it may be, it is normal to experience obstacles. Rather than giving up or criticizing yourself, remember that habits develop over time and will take time to change. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect a behavior to disappear or change just because the clock strikes midnight and a new year begins. Use each obstacle as a learning experience and an opportunity to re-evaluate and perhaps modify your plan. It may not be realistic to get 4 home-cooked dinner meals on the table 52 weeks out of the year, and THAT’S OK! Don’t let discouragement related to statistics or previous failures rob you of achieving your resolution to care for yourself in a healthy way this year.

Oh…and don’t forget: You can make a resolution any time of year, not just January 1st!

I’d love to hear about your SMART resolutions for the year…send me an e-mail or share in the comments below. If you know someone who may need some encouragement or guidance in goal-setting, share this post or this clip from“>ABC 24’s Local Memphis Live with them!

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