Don’t give up yet! Why New Year Diet Resolutions Fall Flat After January?

January 21st, 2019

Don’t give up yet! Why New Year Diet Resolutions Fall Flat After January

Diet-related goals top the list of America’s most popular resolutions every year. Whether it’s losing weight, cutting out all sources of sugar, or toning up at the gym, many Americans resolve to lose weight, follow a healthier lifestyle, or otherwise make modifications to their diets. However, a 2017 Marist poll shows that a least 33% of these people’s resolutions will fall flat after January.

Discovering why we fail to adhere to new diet plans requires an understanding of the psychology of resolution-making itself. Find out why your New Year diet resolution might fail – and how you can make sustainable changes that last all year.

Why Do We Make New Year Resolutions?

New Year resolutions, as we know them today, began in ancient Rome after Julius Caesar established Janus as the first month of the year. A two-faced deity of doorways and arches, the New Year was symbolically an opportunity to look back into the previous year and forward into the coming months, and think about improvements in their conduct. While many of the first New Year’s resolutions had religious implications, we still equate the beginning of the year as an opportunity to make improvements.

Why Do Our Resolutions Fail?

Unfortunately, according to some experts, this is also the reason why so many resolutions fail. Three-hundred and sixty-five days is a long time – a period of time that makes it difficult to establish accountability or create resolutions that have sustainability. For example, saying “I’m going to lose weight and be healthier this year!” lacks the specificity and time frame required to achieve a goal.

Instead, many health experts favor a weekly goal approach – instead of one New Year’s resolution, take advantage of the natural 52 breaks in the year. This allows for more time for reflection and plenty of opportunities to make modifications to your lifestyle.

Your Resolutions Aren’t “Smart”

Grand, sweeping resolutions to alter your life’s course aren’t sustainable and make it more likely that your resolutions will fall flat in the first thirty days. To make changes that last, make your goal-setting SMART:

  • Specific – for example, instead of saying “I’m going to eat healthier this year,” try “I am going to incorporate more leafy greens into my diet.”
  • Measurable – now, take it a step further so you can track your success “ I will incorporate a leafy green into each dinner.”
  • Achievable – to begin, limit a goal to a certain meal instead of, “I am going to increase my vegetable consumption at every meal, every day.”
  • Relevant – keep your health goals in line with your other life efforts, whether that’s to lower your blood pressure, lose weight, or effectively manage chronic health conditions related to your current diet.
  • Time-Phased – this allows you to make modifications that keep you on track. To begin, “I am going to incorporate a leafy green vegetable into my dinners for one week.”

You Listen To Your Inner Critic

Why New Year Diet Resolutions Fall Flat After JanuaryYou might be surprised to learn that you can derail your health efforts based on your inner monologue. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the shaping process – it’s how we learn. The way you handle missteps could make the difference between a resolution diet fail and successfully making a behavior change. The following are examples of how your inner critic could be sabotaging you:

  • “I don’t know why I even try. This will never be a success.”
  • “I’m not getting the results I want. I should quit while I’m ahead.”
  • “Today is already a bust. I might as well keep cheating.”

Learning the power of positive self-talk is an art, but it’s well worth the effort. A simple rephrasing of mistakes can lead to marked changes in outcomes: “I enjoyed that piece of cake. It will feel good to have a leafy green vegetable with dinner later.”

You Try It All On Your Own

Behavior change is a difficult thing to accomplish – in fact, it’s in its own branch of study. We continually learn about the best way to make sustainable life changes. Attempting to make sweeping alterations to your diet on your own can be a recipe for failure. In order to create diets that work all year, it’s best to refer to outside help. An evidence-based approach to diet and healthy eating can help you stay on track and make changes that make you feel good about yourself – inside and out!

Dietary Rehab stays at the forefront of health knowledge and delivers counseling initiatives that help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions. Whether you want to make changes to manage chronic health conditions, lose weight, or even enhance athletic performance, we can help. Talk to us about our services and learn more about how we can help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions – or better yet, turn them into lifelong changes.


About Matt Poteet, Pharm.D.

Matt Poteet graduated with a B.S. in Biological Science from Lee University in 1998, and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Mercer University in Atlanta in 2004. Professionally he has been fortunate to hold positions on staff at two of the leading private, academic teaching hospitals in the southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  - Read more about Matt Poteet, Pharm.D.