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December 28, 2020

Dr. Shaun Kennedy ND

Here’s how to flip food resolutions in 2021

New Year’s resolutions surrounding food or weight loss aren’t uncommon. In fact, in 2020, 43% of people wanted to eat healthier and 37% wanted to lose weight, according to YouGov. However, if we’re not careful, good intentions to become healthier can lead to yo-yo dieting or disordered eating. What steps can we take to ensure that we’re fueling our bodies properly in 2021 without taking food resolutions to the extreme?

Don’t label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’

We’ve all done it at some point. Maybe you’ve thought, “I’ll eat good food during the week so I can have a cheat meal over the weekend.” When you give foods the power of being “good” or “bad,” it creates the opportunity for us to feel fear or guilt when we eat something “bad.” Sometimes when people feel this guilt, they feel like they need to make up for it by swinging in an extreme direction like eating less food for other meals or “working off” the calories in the gym. Removing labels from food allows us to have more control over our choices and focus on how our bodies are feeling rather than the negative emotions surrounding “bad” food.

Don’t unnecessarily restrict food groups

Cutting out specific food groups or nutrients like carbohydrates or fats for the rest of your life is not only unrealistic but can be unintentionally harmful to our bodies and mental health. When you restrict specific foods it’s likely you’ll “fail” at some point, which could lead to binge eating. Instead of restricting, we should focus on metabolic flexibility, or the ability to have a diverse range of foods and macronutrients like protein, carbs and fat. When you’re metabolically flexible your body can switch between carbs and fats as fuel, so you don’t have to hyper focus on cutting either one out entirely. The key is to be mindful of your portion size and enjoy both carbs and fats in moderation.

Focus on nourishment

Nourishment is not only fueling our bodies with the nutrients it needs, but also our satisfying our mind and spirit. When you’re focused on eating to lose weight, it’s easy to focus on only the calories and not how we feel about what we’re eating. Traditionally “healthy” foods can become boring and it’s easy to give into cravings if we’re not cooking meals that satisfy us. Experiment with your food and find ways to prepare them that excite you.

Balance isn’t about perfection

The key to a healthy relationship with food and making food resolutions is balance. By allowing ourselves to enjoy things in moderation, you can have a sweet treat with your family without feeling guilt. You can have a slice of pizza while spending time with friends without thinking about how long you’ll need to work out at the gym tomorrow. Punishing yourself creates a vicious circle of negativity. Give yourself grace and focus on health instead of perfection.

Rather than trying a new diet in 2021, take the time to evaluate your relationship with food and understand how to enjoy fueling your body.


Dr. Shaun Kennedy, ND, and Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, has an innate desire to help others achieve optimal health, so it was no accident that he was drawn to naturopathic medicine. His generally inquisitive nature and passion to help others are what drive him to become a better physician. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, hiking, basketball, Krav Maga and basically anything athletic.