New Year’s Resolution: Eating Healthier and Staying Fit

Written by Samantha Walter-Cano, Edited by Olivia Zugay

As New Year’s Eve approaches, let’s discuss one of the most frequently made resolutions and ways to stay motivated in achieving it. According to various sources, the most popular New Year’s resolution is to get fit and eat healthily. Despite the popularity of this resolution, it can be difficult to stay committed. Adopting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a chore; make it enjoyable!

Eating Healthy

A woman smiles while eating a bowl of fruit.
Image provided by, taken by Nathan Cowley.

“What does it mean to eat healthy?” This question is often asked as eating healthy can sometimes be misunderstood. However, the truth is that eating healthy can be an enjoyable experience. The main objective of healthy eating is to make sure you consume enough vitamins and nutrients to keep your body functioning optimally. Choosing the right food that meets your daily dietary needs and is enjoyable to eat can be challenging. Below are some tips to help you start eating healthier.

Lowering Added Sugars

Added sugars can be harmful to our health and are often found in many foods and beverages such as sodas and flavored yogurts. However, completely eliminating sugars from our diet is not necessary. Instead, we can choose low-sugar alternatives such as sparkling water over soda and plain yogurt with toppings like fresh fruits and honey for that sweet flavor. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that we should consume no more than 10% of our daily calories from added sugars. For instance, if you are on a 2000-calorie diet, you should aim to limit the intake of added sugars to 200 calories per day.

Healthy Fats

While fat is often criticized for its negative effects on health, the fact is that it plays a crucial role in our nutrition. Fats provide our body with high levels of energy and help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, which are made possible by essential fatty acids. However, it’s crucial to consume “healthy fats” instead of unhealthy fats that could lead to health issues like cardiovascular disease. There are four main types of fats: Monounsaturated fats, Polyunsaturated fats, Saturated fats, and Trans fats. Monounsaturated fats, along with Polyunsaturated fats, are considered healthier fats.

A filet of cooked salmon lays on a bed of asparagus.
Image provided by, taken by Rachel Claire.

Some good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive and canola oil, as well as avocados. Sunflower oil, walnut oil, and fish are good sources of polyunsaturated fats. Fish is an excellent source of fat as it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to slow the buildup of calcium and cholesterol in the arteries and keep the heart healthy. Fish like salmon and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Some plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts and chia seeds.

Unhealthy fats like Trans fats and Saturated fats should be limited in consumption. Although artificial trans fats are extremely unhealthy, they are almost entirely absent or banned in several grocery foods. However, trans fats are still present in some baked goods, fried foods, and margarine. Saturated fats are naturally occurring fats found in animal products such as dairy and meat. While it’s impossible to avoid saturated fats completely, it’s essential to limit their consumption and opt for foods with lower saturated fat content. Instead of eating red meat several days a week, consider eating meats like chicken breast and fish on some days. Opt for low-fat milk instead of whole milk.

Whole Grain or Refined Grains

When it comes to deciding between whole grains and refined grains, it’s better to choose whole grains. Unlike refined grains, whole grains haven’t gone through any processing that removes any part of the grain. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins. Consuming whole grains reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. The fiber in whole grains plays a crucial role in maintaining digestive health. Whole grains also contain B vitamins that are important for metabolism and to ensure a healthy nervous system. When shopping for whole grain products, look for the “Whole Grain Stamp” label. Instead of using white pasta and flour tortillas, try using whole-grain pasta and corn or whole-grain tortillas while cooking.

Reading a Nutrition Label

It can be challenging to know which nutrients are present in foods and which ones are not. To make healthy food choices, it is best to learn how to read the Nutritional label. This way, you can fully understand the nutrient content of the foods you buy. Knowing how to read the label can help you keep track of the nutrients you consume throughout the day and maintain a healthy diet. You can include learning how to read the Nutritional label as part of your New Year’s resolution. Here are some articles that can help you understand how to read a Nutritional Facts Label:

How to read food labels | UF Health, University of Florida Health

How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label | FDA

Staying Fit

A man walks a dog on the beach.
Image provided by, taken by Moses Londo.

Staying fit doesn’t necessarily require spending 2 hours at the gym doing intense cardio. Sometimes, all it takes is getting in as little as 30 minutes of cardio per day. This can even be achieved by taking a walk. Taking walks after meals may help regulate blood pressure and improve digestion. Walking after meals can also help manage blood sugar levels, which is especially beneficial for those with diabetes or at risk of developing it. Consider making it your New Year’s resolution to get in 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Other ways to stay active include walking a dog, hiking, biking, or jogging.

Staying on Track

Staying on track with your New Year’s resolution can be challenging. One way to make it easier is to track your progress. Setting realistic goals is also crucial. Realistic goals can help you stick to your plan and even motivate you to exceed your expectations. For instance, you may aim to do 30 minutes of exercise daily, but end up doing 45 minutes on some days. Also, make sure that your goals are practical and affordable, considering your schedule and budget. Being specific about your goals can also help you stay on track. Instead of making a general resolution to “eat healthier,” create specific goals such as “reduce added sugars” or “incorporate healthier fats.” However, don’t be too hard on yourself. There will be challenging days, but any progress is better than none. Approach the New Year with confidence and tackle your resolutions with a positive attitude.


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UF Health. (n.d.). Facts about saturated fats. UF Health, University of Florida Health. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from

UF Health. (n.d.). Omega-3 fats – good for your heart. UF Health, University of Florida Health. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 13). Know your limit for added sugars. Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from

American Heart Association. (2022, July 20). Trans fats. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from


Olivia Zugay, virtual assistant and editor at UF/IFAS Extension Indian River County
Posted: December 20, 2023

Category: Health & Nutrition, , Work & Life
Tags: Eating Healthy, Exercising, Getting Fit, Healthy Fats, New Years Resolutions, Nutrition Label, Setting Goals, Staying Fit, Whole Grains

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