To work, resolutions need to be positive rather than negative; realistic and specific; and baby steps.

For example; “I’m not going to gain any more weight”, won’t work! Framing it more positively is better e.g. I’m going to be a healthy weight. Better still is a more specific set of baby steps like – I’m going to eat healthy foods; I will eat mindfully; I will watch my portion size. Get the picture?

Take a look at what I regard as some helpful and achievable resolutions below.

1. I will shift my mindset from dieting to good health.

Give up the diets and the food restrictions.  Instead think of eating to nourish your body, giving it the essential nutrition it needs.  A change in mindset means that you view eating a fresh peach not as a diet snack but as a healthy food to enjoy.

2. I will eat modest portion sizes and not go back for seconds.

Increased portion sizes are a huge contributor to our obesity problem. Everything is supersized with jumbo packets of crisps, maxi boxes of movie popcorn and huge serves of mud cake. Even freshly-squeezed juices come in mega-cups equal to 4 or 5 pieces of whole fruit!

Research by Dr Barbara Rolls from Pennsylvania State University shows that people eat according to what’s on their plate. Her experiments consisted of feeding people filled rolls or macaroni cheese on different sized plates (where it’s hard to work out just how much food is really there).

The results showed that we don’t stop half way when our stomach signals it’s full. We do our best to eat to the bottom of the pack or until the plate is clean.

The bottom line:  Be satisfied with less. Eat like the French.

3. I will eat a salad a day.

Salads have what dietitians call a low kilojoule-density – in other words, there are few kilojoules (calories) in a given volume so they fill your stomach without overloading you with too much – even with dressing.

US research has shown that a salad eaten at the start of a meal (a pre-load) reduces the overall amount of food you eat at that meal.

Salads can be just vegetables or with added protein such as chicken. steak, eggs, cheese, chickpeas or whatever you prefer. Treat yourself to a salad recipe book to inspire you to tasty, enticing salads.

I love leafy green salads and suggest anyone battling to lose weight eat one a day, either as a lunch meal or as a side salad with dinner.

4. I will walk or swim three times a week.

This is the one that gets dropped the soonest. Why?  Because we have to make time to fit in exercise and that’s not always easy.  Keep your exercise ambitions modest and realistic. If it’s something fun or a sport that you like, then you’re more likely to do it – often. And there are so many easy ways to get your walking in. Walk to the shops for that bottle of milk. Walk to the station a few times a week. Park furthest away from the exit in a car park. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Or take the kids for a walk in the park at the weekend. You get the idea.

5. I will be more active in my daily life

Incidental activity – taking the stairs, cleaning the house or getting stuck into the gardening – burns extra kilojoules without having to go to the gym.

Or walk or swim. Change the way you view these ‘chores’ and you’ll suddenly see them as ‘opportunities’ to exercise.

Written by guest contributor, dietitian-nutritionist Catherine Saxelby, and reproduced here with permission from