So it’s new year’s resolution time. Want to lose weight and eat healthier? Instead of vowing to diet, why not promise yourself you’ll prepare your meals and snacks better?

A big part of eating better is planning better. You don’t need to resist cravings, you just have to plan what to eat when cravings strike.

And that begins in the grocery store.

“Take the time to plan at least half of your meals and three quarters of your snacks each week,” advises Stacey Segal, a registered dietitian who works at the Harbourfront Health and Wellness Centre in Toronto.

For instance, snacks are important in a well balanced diet, she says. “Fill your grocery list with snack items that are easy to toss in your bag as you head out the door. Pre-packaged unsalted almonds or walnuts, edamame, low fat cheese, yogurt and fruit are good options,” she says. Pre-cut vegetables and fruit and leave them in your fridge for a quick healthy snack.

Segal, who is a spokesperson for the Kellogg’s Special K Challenge, also recommends having Special K cereal bars on hand. The Challenge advocates “tools, not rules” for achieving a healthy body weight.

If you possibly can, eat breakfast every day. It has been shown in many medical studies that those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than those who skip the first meal of the day. Eating in the morning jumpstarts your metabolism and gives you more energy. If you skip breakfast, the next thing you eat is more likely to be high in sugar and fat. If you’re struggling with this one, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that only 58 per cent of Canadians eat breakfast every day.

For lunches, Segal recommends planning ahead: Fill your freezer with individual portions of leftovers or homemade meals and bring them to work. This helps to cut the temptation to buy high-calorie, high-fat food when you are really hungry at lunch-time.

If you crave something sweet after dinner, don’t resist it, she says. “Trying to ignore this craving will only lead to over-indulging later. Instead, find low calorie, low fat treats that satisfy your craving.”

Nutrition Tips

Here are some other tips for a nutritional new year:

• Set realistic goals for 2009

• Eat breakfast every day

• Eat well balanced meals which you plan in advance

• Eat at home more often

• Exercise regularly

• Treat yourself and don’t expect perfection

• Eat slowly and give your body time to tell you it’s full

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