How to Set Smart Nutritional Goals
When you decide to make changes in your behavior, you need to set goals. And you should be SMART about it. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
R-ealistic and relevant
Here's is how SMART correlates with your nutritional behaviors.
You need your goals to be specific so you can measure them. What do you plan to do? Can you break it down into smaller steps?
Instead of saying, "I'm going to exercise", be more specific. Say, "I will walk for 20 minutes at lunchtime Monday through Thursday". That's a specific goal. Or, instead of, "I'm going to eat more fruit", say "I will drink 6 ounces of orange juice every morning".
The goal should be clear and straightforward. Know exactly what you will be doing and when.
Measure your actions to see if you're attaining the goal.
Perhaps your goal is to write down everything you eat and drink for one week. Review your food records at the end of the week and see whether you met that goal. You can then set a new goal. Your new goal might be the same or you might change it based on the measure of your actions.
Don't make your goal too hard to reach. While you want to push yourself a little, try dividing your ultimate goal into many smaller, achievable ones.
Instead of saying, "I'll never eat lunch out again", aim to pack lunch for 3 days a week. Or instead of thinking, "How could I ever eat a whole cup of vegetables?" add a salad to your dinner two nights a week.
Plan only what you can actually do.
Instead of thinking, "I'll never have dessert again", only eat dessert on Saturday night. Or instead of saying, "I will walk 60 minutes seven days a week", say, "I will walk 30 minutes five days a week". Anything extra is a bonus.
Pick a time period, like a week or a month, when setting a goal. That will keep you focused on a starting and end point. You can then build on the goal you're measuring by adding a new one for the next time period.
- Fabricatore, AN, PhD. Behavior Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy of Obesity: Is There a Difference? J Am Dietetic Assoc. Jan 2007; 107:92-99.