Friday Five: Nutrition “Hacks” for a Healthier 2018 #Giveaway

It’s Friday, so I’m linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0. I have a special treat for you today! If you’ve been around here, you know my long time friend, and fave nutritionist, Lauren Antonucci. Lauren is the owner of Nutrition Energy in NYC and is a consultant for the New York Road Runners.  She is a Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, Certified Sports Dietitian, an athlete and a mom. Lauren is sharing five nutrition hacks for a healthier 2018. Plus, she’s offering one lucky reader a 60 minute Skype nutrition consultation (or in person if you’re in NYC)! So, read on and then enter to win.

5 Nutrition “Hacks” for a Healthier 2018 by Lauren Antonucci MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN

I say this every year, but I can’t believe that another year has begun. It’s the time for us all to assess our goals from 2017 and set new intentions for 2018. When doing this, it’s great to first honestly assess what worked and what didn’t. Simply making the same resolution again and again won’t result in achieving it. How many times have you said, “This is the year I will FINALLY [fill in the blank]?” How will this year be different?

I’m not a New Year’s resolution maker or advocate. I prefer to continually assess my goals, achievements, failures and intentions. That said, January is as good a time as any to make lasting and meaningful changes to bring us closer to our goals.

So, here are my Top 5 Nutrition Hacks that you can start now. You can choose to tackle them one at a time or start all five today. Either way, you’ll be happy you did.

1. Keep a Food Log for 3-5 Days. [Get my Nutrition Energy food log here.]
I know you’ve heard this before, but when is the last time you’ve done it? Writing down everything you eat and drink for 3 to 5 days can be enlightening, humbling and appalling all at once! [Ask Erica about the time she did this with me years ago. Hint: there were a lot of mini Cadbury Creme Eggs.]

I ask my clients to keep food logs when we first meet and periodically thereafter. They record: time of day, hunger before and after eating, foods eaten and any thoughts/feelings or comments around eating.

Nine times out of ten, my clients come in with great insight and suggestions for changes after completing this exercise.

You may find that:

  • You haven’t eaten a piece of fruit all week, or
  • That you’ve ordered in take-out 3 out of 5 nights this week, or
  • That you visit the office snack room way more often than you thought, or
  • That you’re eating way more food while you cook (or wait for) dinner than you thought.

Weight loss, sports performance and improving overall health are all achievable goals that require honest assessment, planning and perseverance. This is the assessment phase and it is absolutely imperative. You can use this log as you continue on with the remaining hacks.

2. Go for the Low Hanging Fruit. [Pun intended! Sorry, I could not resist.]
Do you have at least one bad nutrition habit that you’re aware of that continually prevents you from reaching your goals? Most of us have at least one. Now’s the time to finally rid yourself of that unwanted habit. Whether it’s drinking a sugary coffee drink every morning or eating more nuts (or chips) than you intend to each night while watching TV, make today the day you change that habit.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Focus your attention on changing ONLY that one habit for the next 1-3 weeks.
  • Write down your NEW habit everywhere you can (on your fridge, as an alert on your smartphone, on your Facebook page) and make it known.
  • Your NEW habit should include what you WILL do instead of your old habit. Like, “I will drink tea with 2% milk instead of my usual chai latte-and save myself $5 and a few hundred calories daily.”

I know you want to clean up your eating all at once. But think about it, how many times have you tried to change the same habit? if you invest 2-3 weeks to finally change this habit, and then move on to #3 or another habit, won’t that be amazing? Yes, it will be. So, try it, and then please tweet me or post on my Facebook page to let me know how it went.

3. Plan Your Produce Intake for the Week (at least one serving of produce with each meal and snack). Let me explain. You know you should eat 2-3 servings of fruit and 4-5 servings of veggies daily, right? And you like fruits and veggies right? [If not, please stop reading tweet or Facebook message me IMMEDIATELY and I’ll help find ways for you to enjoy some of each!]

So, what is preventing you from eating your delicious produce servings daily? In my 15 plus years as a Dietitian, I’ve found that planning and habituation play huge parts in making health changes last.

Planning your produce may sound strange, but will help tremendously. Once per week plan the fruits and veggies you’ll eat and when (time of day and day of week) you’ll eat them.

Planning at least one fruit or veg with each meal and snack, then make your shopping list. Bonus points: Go right to the store to make your purchases or use an online ordering system to ensure your produce is on its way.

After doing this for 2-3 weeks it will become a habit. In my house, we refer to foods in ways that I realize may sound strange to others. “Breakfast Fruits” are those we generally eat for breakfast at home because they don’t transport well. When I ask my kids which “Lunch Veggies” they want this week, they know I mean things that will cut and travel well together in the reusable container we pack our veggies to-go in daily.

Bottom line: Make a plan for which fruits and veggies you’ll routinely eat and when. Create some healthy produce habits and they’ll stick!

4. Cut Corners Wisely.
We all wish we had more time and more money, right?! Since both are limited, we need to make careful and intelligent choices with both. Think about this as making some trade-offs.

I save money by cutting up melons myself, but sometimes buy pre-cut squash to save time. This means I’m more likely to cook the squash during my hectic evenings with my busy family of five.

Think in terms of some possible trade-offs:

  • Which healthy foods will you eat more of by spending a bit more on (prepared) and which you can save on by preparing your own?
  • Do you need to buy the fish already cooked or is it the veggies/side dishes?
  • Would you be better off making and freezing turkey meatballs or another protein on the weekend to save time and then free up time to make more veggies Monday-Friday?

Working on these important trade-offs with clients makes all the difference in terms of their long-term success. Time and money are two major reason why resolutions/diets/goals fail.

5. Pack Snacks for the Week.
Think about it for a second. When do you generally choose a snack to eat? Once you are already starving and stuck at work? In the morning when you are rushing to get out the door? Have you ever tried packing them in advance? If you have, you know how well it works.

Here’s what I propose. Take 15 minutes on Sunday night to think through the week, what you have in the house and what you might be in the mood for. Then get packing!

Here are some ideas:

  • Pre-portion nuts and put them into small (ideally reusable) bags.
  • Scoop hummus into individual containers and pair them with snack baggies full of pre-cut veggies.
  • Pack healthy energy bars (with a short ingredient list) in your purse and gym bag “just in case”.
  • Portion out granola into snack bags and tape them to the top of yogurt containers in the fridge.

You get the idea. Put in a little time and effort and get great results.

Each of these “hacks” will make a difference. The more of them you can master, the better. Anyone can start or even follow a “diet” for some amount of time…then fall back into old habits. The goal is to make lasting changes that you can live with AND stick to.

You know what I love about these “hacks?” They’re all doable! Lauren has offered one Skype nutritional counseling session to a lucky reader. This is a $245 value! It can be redeemed in person if you’re in NYC. Otherwise, the winner has through 3/31/18 to schedule and redeem a session with Lauren.

Want to enter to win? Please use the Rafflecopter below. The winner must be 18 years of age or older and the offer is void where prohibited. The giveaway runs through January 22. A winner will be selected and notified on January 23.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find all of Lauren’s info on her website. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You’ll love her daughter’s amazing lunches. I do! Check out Nutrition Energy’s awesome newsletters here.

Have a great weekend!

Please note: Prize is sponsored by Nutrition Energy.



  1. Great tips Erica! And I love how they are all easily doable!

  2. Nicci Randall says:

    I need more produce planning my life! Some weeks I feel like my plan ends up with me eating the same things at every breakfast and every lunch – which I don’t mind. But maybe I would stay on track with planning ahead if I added some more variety to it…hmmm..I’ll have to test it out. Thanks for this! Super helpful!

  3. Erin R. says:

    I’ve got to cut back a bit on the added sugar in my tea every morning. It’s a bad habit to add more than I really need.

    I can’t even take credit for this because I stumbled into it as a lazy teenager, but I eat fruit (apple, banana, etc.) for breakfast every day because I can eat it in the car without spilling. (ducks)

    Sadly, I’ve never mastered eating a bowl of oatmeal in the car…

  4. Lisa Brown says:

    Pre-portioning is really helpful, especially if you can reuse the containers.

  5. Jamie King says:

    I REALLY need to do more produce planning. I always buy a lot more produce than we end up eating, often because it gets forgotten or we just don’t eat it in time. Planning would really help!

  6. All good tips! And some I wish my husband would listen to. Like fruit. If I don’t give it to him, he doesn’t eat it. His 10 days off at the end of the year? I don’t think he ate a single piece of fruit. 🙁

  7. Lauren says:

    Great tips. I was just talking to two food loggers about how I don’t like doing it every day but just periodically to check in or when I start marathon training or something-good way to actually gauge what you are eating and your patterns!

  8. Alyse says:

    I love the idea of produce planning – that had never occurred to me, to assign fruits to days.. but it’s genius. I always buy the wrong amount and either run out or have too much, and then it gets wasted. totally trying this. 🙂

    • I started planning the produce after we had our third child, and then even more so when our oldest started going to school (so more mouths to feed healthfully and less time). It really helps.

  9. Amy D says:

    I need to plan a food log! It is not the meals that are my issue, it’s what I eat between meals that is not always so healthy. I tend to snack on chips and unhealthy foods in between moods and sometimes over eat snacks. Ooops!

    • And now that you have stated it, you can work on it. You can start by adding one healthy food before any other snacks between each meal (fruit-veg-yogurt). Then start logging the thoughts you have before and after eating (as in: am I bored, tired, thirsty…). You’ll get it!

  10. Clarinda says:

    These are great tips! It’s easy to give up if you try to change too much at once, I love the advice of starting with the low-hanging fruit.

    Also, planning out the fruits/veggies by the day. Such a great idea!

  11. These are great tips! I always say a food log is a great way to keep track. I sometimes realize how much I’ve been eating! I also like packing snacks ahead of time too 🙂 It’s great for grabbing on-the-go!

  12. Liz says:

    These are such great reminders! I have a feeling I’m eating healthier than I am, and a food log would really help keep me accountable to my intake.

  13. Produce sounds like a clever idea! I tend to stand in front of the fridge, and ponder what to grab…and sometimes just walk away because I don’t have time to just stand around and ponder LOL

  14. Farrah says:

    I love these tips! I feel like I need to do more “produce planning”–that’d definitely help to cut down waste (and make sure I get enough each day)!

  15. Wendy says:

    Does wine count as a low hanging fruit? That would be my weakness…

  16. Amy Lauren says:

    i would try planning out the produce and keeping a food log.

  17. I have recently been logging my food and i have been a little more conscience of what I need. That creamer in the morning for coffee really adds up.

  18. ellen beck says:

    I need to eat more fruits .. due to some dental issues, hard fruits are out, but I can make sayapplesauces and such to replace the apples.

  19. Nikki Fahey says:

    I want to stop eating rice cakes and protein bars. thanks

  20. Elicia P says:

    Food Logs are important. I know that the individuals that use them lose the most amount of weight!
    I will use it when I start to realize my weight creeping up.

  21. Becca says:

    These are great tips! I like the writing down goals and posting them everywhere.

  22. Amber Ludwig says:

    Prepacking snack!! I tend to eat anything and everything in my reach when snacking and its never healthy lol!!

  23. Coco says:

    These are great tips. I need to put more veggies in my grocery cart! I usually am so good about eating big salads but have gotten lazy.

  24. Sarah N says:

    Sugar is my vice and definitely something I’d like to change in 2018. Thanks for the tips!

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