Fresh and fit diet advice as you tackle your New Year’s goals

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and author of “The Slim Down South Cookbook.” Email her at

Weight-loss regimens are a national obsession, especially at the start of the new year when fitness centers fill up with new converts and supermarket carts fill up with salad fixings.

Whether your goal is to trim a few pounds or overhaul eating habits for the long haul, here is a roundup of fresh nutrition wisdoms from registered dietitians who specialize in health coaching.

It’s all about you

One size does not fit all when it comes to nutrition. Changing what you eat can make you feel better and your jeans fit better, but it can't make you into a 6-foot-tall supermodel. So have realistic expectations.

“People, like dogs, come in differing sizes and shapes,” says registered dietitian Nancy Clark, author of the “Sports Nutrition Guidebook.” “There are St. Bernards, greyhounds, Labs, poodles and Chihuahuas. Be proud of your ‘breed,’ honor your genetics, and treat your body with respect.”

Fitness friends

Phone a friend. Registered dietitian Annette Schottenfeld, of Nett Nutrition, says, “Walk with a co-worker. Meet new friends in dance class or team training at the gym. Stay connected with fitness friends to ensure you will show up, motivate each other and share successes.”

Some like it hot

Fed up with cold rabbit food? "Rather than trying to eat more and more salads, cook vegetables the way Mediterraneans do by roasting or stewing them with olive oil, onion, tomatoes and herbs," suggests registered dietitian Elena Paravantes, health editor of Olive Oil Times.

Learn by example

Demand for home-delivered kits of pre-measured fresh ingredients with easy-to-follow recipes is heating up nationwide. Mary Alice Shreve, registered dietitian with Atlanta-based meal kit delivery service Peach Dish, makes sure recipes feature healthful foods with seasonings that add flavor without relying on salt. How about a Super Foods Salad with kale and sunflower seeds or Red Quinoa Parsnip Stew? Shreve says, "It's all about getting people back in the kitchen. If you can put olive oil in the pan, you can handle these recipes."

Be realistic

Registered dietitian Toby Amidor, author of “The Greek Yogurt Kitchen,” advises setting short-term goals. “It’s very important to establish short-term benchmarks and achieve different ones every few weeks,” Amidor says. “Short-term goals should be positive. For example, eat a fruit during at least one snack time each day.” Goals should be measurable and pleasurable.