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4 Ways to Eat Healthier in 2016

If your New Year's resolution involves plans for healthier eating, you're hardly alone. Millions of people strive to make positive dietary changes as the ball drops every year with the aim of looking and feeling better. And while eating...

If your New Year's resolution involves plans for healthier eating, you're hardly alone. Millions of people strive to make positive dietary changes as the ball drops every year with the aim of looking and feeling better. And while eating right is often easier said than done, there are some simple steps you can take as you start down the path toward reaching your goals. Let's count down four ways to enjoy happy, healthy eating in 2016.

Eat healthier
Show yourself some love by committing to eat better in the year ahead.

1. Start Writing

Did you know that you're much more likely to reach your goals if you write them down?

Whether your aim is to eat more fruits and vegetables or to cut back on processed foods, taking the time to compile a list can mean the difference between earning a coveted spot among the very few who ring in 2017 in better health or ending up with the also-rans.

This doesn't mean grabbing the nearest sheet of paper and scribbling down a few vague words. Rather, take time to craft a specific, measurable vision. The more specific you are in setting your goals, the more you position yourself to achieve them.

Eat healthier

While you're at it, write down why you want to eat healthier, too. Revisiting your reasons when the going gets tough can help you stay focused.

Feel free to share your goals with friends, too. Not only will this help you stay accountable, but you're likely to see better results: research published in Translational Behavioral Medicine concluded that people with strong systems of social support lost significantly more weight than those who kept their weight loss and fitness goals to themselves.

2. Think Small

While you may have grand goals in mind, resolve to start small. Why? It's simple: Countless people fail before they start because they choose unrealistic goals.

By picking an attainable objective instead, you not only set yourself up for success, but also gain motivation to keep going. When you do reach an initial goal, take time to celebrate your accomplishment, then set a new goal.

Think of it this way: every single marathoner who ever crossed a finish line started with a single first step.

3. Get Cooking

One of the best paths to healthy eating is to get up close and personal with your food. In fact, a study published in Public Health Nutrition revealed that people who cooked dinner at home not only ate healthier, but also consumed an average of 137 fewer calories per meal.

As it turns out, home-cooked meals are typically more nutritious than those eaten outside the home, with fewer calories, sugar, salt and fat than typical restaurant menu items.

The best part? If and when you do decide to venture out to a restaurant, research indicates that you'll also consume fewer calories while there. So whether you're a cooking novice or accomplished home chef, cooking your own meals has huge payoffs when it comes to initiating healthy habits -- not only for you, but also for the other members of your household.

4. Prep and Plan

Lack of planning is the enemy of many a weight watcher. Why? Because the combination of hurried and hungry often leads to poor choices, such as binge eating and trips through the drive-thru window.

Rather than falling victim to this pitfall, set aside a regular time to plan your menu and grocery shopping for the week. If your weeknights are particularly harried, it can also be advantageous to designate weekend time for prep work, such as chopping vegetables for snacking or preparing a healthy casserole for soccer night. Not only can planning help you stay on track, but it can also help you save money.

Eat healthier
Planning your shopping list in advance can help you make healthy in-store choices.

One last thing to keep in mind? Without a doubt, you're going to encounter obstacles and setbacks along the way. Don't let these derail you from your goal. Instead, commit now to learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up, and keep moving forward. True lifestyle change doesn't happen overnight; rather, it's an ongoing process. Get off to a great start by registering with Cilantro, your one-stop-shop for all things kitchen and cooking.