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Don't Bite off Too Much When Making Dietary Goals

Natalie Allen works with student athletes on dietary changes.
Kevin White
Natalie Allen and Lexington Dobbs working with student athletes providing them with nutrition education on September 27, 2021. Kevin White/Missouri State University

Each January, many people set weight loss goals for the year.

For some, it may be inspired by overindulging at holiday gatherings. Others see it as a time to reset or detox.

Natalie Allen, a registered dietitian who teaches in the biomedical sciences department and serves as the dietitian for Missouri State University student-athletes, provides tips for goal setting that leads to sustainable change.

“Do not bite off too much, but set reasonable goals,” Allen said.

If your goal is better hydration, she said to start by adding one glass of water per meal and incrementally add more. You’re more likely to reach that goal if you don’t try to change everything all at once.

Your body may desire large quantities of sweets after all the sugar cookies and pumpkin pie. Allen recommends making a smoothie filled with fresh fruits and vegetables instead of giving in.

“Not only are you getting a lot more nutrition when you do that, but you’re also satisfying that sweet tooth,” she said. “Instead of something that has a lot of added sugar, you eat something with more natural sugar like fruit.”

If you’re adding more movement and activity into your daily routine, Allen said it’s important to factor that into your diet as well.

The number one consideration, she said, should be protein intake. While the amount you need depends on your body weight, “they’re all equal as far as protein: seven grams per ounce of cooked meat,” she adds.

Sneaking in extra protein is easy, she noted.

  • Instead of butter on your toast, try peanut butter or a fried egg.  
  • Drink milk with a meal. 
  • Add yogurt to a smoothie. 

Healthy carbs are another area to consider, especially as you’re adding more exercise.
“Carbs sometimes get a bad rap,” she said. “Get your healthy carbs from things like sweet potatoes, apples, fruits and corn.”

Nicki received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State in marketing, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. After gaining experience in writing, marketing, special event planning, fundraising and public relations, she returned to the university to work in the office of strategic communication. There she tells the university’s story by sharing the stories of individuals at Missouri State.