Stick to your Plan for National Nutrition Month!

March is National Nutrition Month and it's the perfect time to plan for summer. Let's reflect on "What are your summer goals" AND "What will you do to get there"?

As the weather warms up, let's plan ahead by setting SMART goals. SMART stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Attainable”, “Reasonable”, and “Timely” goals. Since most habits take several weeks or months to develop, the time is now to embark upon a new routine.

In honor of National Nutrition Month, I would like to share with you five things that you can implement today. If you do them regularly, soon they can be a part of your daily routine. Just like any other activity, practice makes perfect. However, you don’t have to be perfect to see results. This past week was Spring Break for my family, and I stepped away from my gym routine. However, when my exercise routine is disrupted, I try to stick to my nutrition goals more closely. I have found the longer you are off your plan, the less you miss it.

Check out my Top 5 tips to “Stick to the Plan

1) Always reach for water with your meals. When ordering out, you may only see soft drinks or something with added sugar on the menu. However, ask for water even if it is a few more cents to substitute. It will cost you much more in the long run to drink those extra calories. The sugar in liquid meals is absorbed much more quickly, allowing for a faster rise in blood sugar. Add a little fruit to your water, a squeeze of lemon, or even a slice of lime for a refreshing treat. 2) Always add vegetables to most of your meals during the day. If you eat only once, add them once. If you eat three meals a day, add them at least twice. Only 1 in 5 Americans will eat >5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The only way to increase this number is to add more at mealtime, and perhaps eat them first. If you get full easily, then at least you have met your quota. Filling up on low calorie, high fiber vegetables will increase your energy while reducing your blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular diseases. 3) Always stop eating before you are full. Your brain takes some time to catch up to the receptors in your stomach and intestinal tract that tell you that you are full. Medications that are approved for weight loss mimic the same hormonal pathways, but you can also retrain your stomach by chewing slowly and savoring every bite of food. It helps to sit down at mealtime instead of rushing through meals while on the go. 4) Always eat a little protein before you reach for dessert. It can be very easy to make room for dessert especially if you are still hungry. Try having a few bites of protein, and waiting a few minutes before ordering dessert. Protein of any type (animal or plant), can help with satiety and diminish the need to cap off a meal with a serving of something sweet. If you still need something additional, consider a serving of berries (1/2 cup), a few apple slices, or an orange. 5) Always stop eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. Late night snacking can derail the best of plans. Whatever dietary plan you decide upon, food still takes time to pass through the digestive tract. Eating before lying down increases your chances for reflux backwards, coughing, as well as stomach inflammation and ulcers. With less chance of physical activity before bedtime, it also contributes to weight gain.

Let’s agree to share our SMART goals, and hold each other accountable.

Whether you are on a plant-based, low-carb, Keto diet, DASH diet, or looking to start a new nutrition plan, make the decision to write down and share your SMART goals today. Let your Doctor, family member, friend, gym buddy, or personal trainer know that you need to be held accountable. If you are struggling to pick a program, discuss it with your Primary Care Physician, Dietician, or a Bariatric (Obesity) Medicine physician like myself. We can design a personalized program that you can implement today. Learn more about available services at To obtain more recipes, resources, and meal planning ideas, please visit the website Dr. Karla Vital is a Board Certified Bariatric (Obesity) Medicine Specialist and Nephrologist in Houston, Texas, who is currently accepting new patients in her office at Vital Health and Wellness Center. Call (281) 809-2107 to schedule a consultation, and to find out what insurance plans are accepted. Follow on Facebook at and on Twitter at @drkarlavital.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.