When it comes to your health and well-being, setting goals focused on nutrition and overall healthy eating are some of the most important goals you can have for yourself. Whether your ultimate goal is weight loss, better health, more energy, or glowing skin, creating nutritional SMART goals is a great way to set yourself up for success in achieving your goals.
Achieving your nutritional goals this year starts with creating a healthy eating plan. In this post, we’ll cover how to create a solid plan for yourself by setting specific and attainable goals.
You want to set realistic, achievable, and measurable goals in setting your goals. The SMART goal method is a great way to create an action plan to ensure that you achieve the health goals you set if you put forth the effort.
What are SMART Nutrition Goals?
Those who have made health transformations know that healing their body, losing weight, and living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t just happen overnight. They are the result of you setting clear goals, working hard, and showing up for your goals consistently and regularly.
SMART goals is a goal-setting process that can help you reach specific nutritional goals. The SMART goal method helps you structure your goal to have clear steps that are realistic and attainable for you.
Designing SMART Goals
So often, I hear people say things like “my goal is to eat healthier” or “eat more plants” or something along those lines. But really, these are more intentions and tend to be a bit vague.
In setting an achievable goal, you want your goal to be as specific as possible, measurable in some way, attainable, and relevant to your personal values and long-term goals. They also need to have a timeline or deadline for achieving them. This is where the SMART goal framework comes in.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals are:
1. Creating Specific Goals
The first step in creating a new behavior is to be as specific as possible regarding your desired end result. A goal should be specific and define what you want.
An example goal that is specific is: I will have less than 20 grams of added sugar per day, the goal isn’t just less sugar or healthier eating, it specifies the maximum amount allowed and specifies added sugar (so natural sugar in fruit would be okay). Another example is: I will eat at least one serving of fruit or vegetables at each meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In this example the specific nutrional food group is mentioned and the meals.
2. Creating Measurable Goals
To find success in achieving a goal, you need to know how you will measure your progress and achievement. You can use a journal, app, or checklist to monitor your progress and ultimately when you’ve achieved your desired outcome.
Some examples of how you might measure your goal would be tracking your grams of sugar in a food journal or adding a rubber band around your water bottle for each time you consume the 20 ounces of water in it. Get creative, yet make it easy for yourself.
3. Creating Achievable and Attainable Goals
When creating your goals, you want to set yourself up for success by making small goals that lead to significant change over time. It’s great to have big goals for yourself. You may even have a long-term goal, such as eating only whole foods or real foods, which are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
When creating your goals, it’s essential to consider what is achievable for you. If you set a big goal, you’ll want to also make small goals, to use as a road map to get you to your desired end result. Most people do much better with small changes, one thing at a time.
For instance, completely overhauling the way you eat doesn’t just happen overnight, but many people can start with adding small changes such as adding in a fresh fruit or vegetable at each meal.
In particular, many people fail when it comes to dieting because they set unrealistic and unsustainable goals for themselves. It’s better to create goals that you know you will have success with that can keep you feeling motivated and moving forward than to go too big, fail, and then give up.
Think small and achievable. Your goals don’t have to be all or nothing. You may even give yourself some wiggle room, such as 5 out of 7 days of the week or 2 out of 3 meals. It’s better for your mindset to be realistic and surpass your goals than set an unrealistic goal and fail.
4. Creating Relevant Goals
You want the nutrition goals you are setting to be relevant to your long-term health goals and your life goals. For example, if you also have goals around physical activity or exercise, they should support each other. Nutritional goals may also reflect advice from a doctor, supporting a woman’s fertility, building muscle mass, having more energy, etc.
Spend some time reflecting on your personal values and what’s important to you and your health. This will help you have a deeper “why” behind the goals you are making for yourself.
5. Creating Goals that are Time-Bound
It’s essential to give your goals a deadline or a time frame in which you will complete them. When you achieve your goal, it’s up to you what comes next. You may choose to reward yourself, which I encourage. You may also choose to keep moving forward towards your bigger, overarching goal.
For example if you set a goal to eat a vegetable at every dinner for two weeks, when those two weeks are up, you want to reward yourself and set a goal that reflects the next step in developing better nutrition such as eating a vegetable at lunch and dinner for two weeks.
In regards to ongoing goals, I like to encourage people with ongoing goals such as meal prepping every Sunday to still create a timeframe such as meal prepping every Sunday for the next four weeks rather than ongoing goals. At some point ongoing goals either become routine or fall away, in either case new goals need to be established.
The ultimate goal with most nutrional goals is really more about establishing healthier eating habits that are sustainable and become a natural part of your lifestyle.
SMART Nutrition Goal Examples
Each Sunday this month, I will meal prep for four lunches for the week ahead.
Eating more vegetables
I will eat one serving of vegetables with dinner four days a week for the next four weeks. I will add a checkmark on the wall calendar each time I have a serving of vegetables at dinner.
I will write one sentence or phrase describing my current emotions in my food journal before each meal or snack for the next five days.
Creating healthy lifestyle changes takes time. The best way to eat more nutritiously is one small step at a time. Create new eating habits that support your long-term health goals. Practice self-compassion and be realistic in what you can achieve. You want to set yourself up for success by creating achievable goals that will give you positive results to keep you motivated and moving forward!
Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about coaching with her here.