Lose 50 pounds. Give up sweets. Get to the gym six times a week. Sounds daunting, right? Instead of making monster resolutions that are so intimidating that you’re likely to abandon them by February (if not sooner), why not set yourself up for success with doable diet tweaks? Science shows that even small changes can add up to big results. For example, researchers at the Mayo Clinic asked a group of overweight individuals to make nearly imperceptible lifestyle changes, like eating breakfast and having a serving of veggies with each meal. The results were astounding: the average person lost eight pounds in just two weeks.
With that in mind, here are four extremely doable diet resolutions that anyone (really!) can make:
1. Start your day with a glass of water. The verdict is out on whether water fills you up enough to make you eat less food–but research does show that people who drink water regularly make better food choices than their less hydrated peers. Personally, I have a glass of water before I eat anything else because it feels healthy, and that tiny step reminds me to make other healthy choices throughout the day.
2. Put fruit on your counter. Or your table or desk. The main thing is to make it visible and to hide less-than-healthy choices, because numerous studies show that the more often we see food, the more likely we are to eat it.
3. Use smaller plates. To pare down your portions, eat off a salad plate. Research from Cornell University and other institutions has shown that using a plate smaller than 10 inches in diameter tricks your brain into thinking you’re eating more food than you really are.
4. Have lunch with someone healthy. When I eat with Sara, she’s such a smart diner that I’m inevitably inspired to make better choices myself, whether it’s trying the quinoa special or skipping steak for fresh seafood. It’s no coincidence: a now-famous study from Harvard researchers found that we tend to mimic the habits of those around us, which is why we’re at least 50 percent more likely to become overweight if a close friend is obese. So if you know someone who’s more likely to encourage you to eat salad than dessert, ask her to join you at your next meal.
Happy–and healthy!–New Year!