Falling Into a Fresh Start

Close-up people eating delicious food
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January is not the only time you can start with a clean slate. Fall is a great time to make a fresh start.

What is the fresh start effect?

The fresh start effect is connected to moments that stand out in time, like your birthday or the new year. These events inspire goal setting and provide motivation to start making life changes. The fresh start effect serves as a mental signal that “from here on out, things will be different.” Starting a new job, moving, and the change of seasons are other common triggers.

Fall is a perfect time for eating habit changes

There are three main reasons why I believe the fall months, and especially September or the start of the school year, are a great time to improve your nutrition:

  1. Even as an adult, a new school year signals an opportunity to refresh. This can work whether there are students in your household or not.
  2. Life becomes a little more structured after all the vacations, social time, and the feeling of freedom that long summer days can bring. As far as eating habits go, summer can be somewhat of a free-for-all. After all the cookouts, s’mores, and impromptu gatherings you might crave something different. September can bring a welcome change of pace and structure that makes it easier to plan and stick with new habits.
  3. After a few months spent outside enjoying the warm weather, the cooler fall temps bring us inside more. It’s easy to make a connection between more time inside and additional self-reflection.

Healthy habits to work on this fall

In general, habits that revolve around cooking, hydration, and portions are good ideas to work on during the fall months. We tend to begin cooking more this time of year and as it gets cooler outside, hydration isn’t as front of mind. It’s nice to polish our portion control skills as we prepare for the holiday season. Here are a few suggestions for what you could work on:

Cooking skills

After a summer spent grilling, going on picnics, and enjoying quick and easy meals, it can be nice to get back into the kitchen again. This is especially true if you’re cooking up some fun, new, and interesting dishes.

  • Plan menus, such as what you’ll have for dinner each night during the week.
  • Take a cooking class online, or in person, to practice certain skills or to learn to prepare dishes from a specific part of the world.
  • Expand your culinary capabilities with Guiding Stars-earning recipes. Choose one or two new recipes to try each week.

Healthy hydration

When it’s hot out, we tend to notice our thirst more than during the cooler months. For this reason, it’s important to have good hydration habits in place.  

  • Start the day with a glass of water before other beverages.
  • Make a water drinking goal for yourself and keep a refillable water bottle near you throughout the day. Refill as necessary.
  • Swap out sweetened beverages for naturally flavored, unsweetened alternatives, like seltzer. Find better-for-you options using Guiding Stars in the beverage aisle.

Portion control

Sometimes the portions of food we serve ourselves gets larger over time, without us even realizing it. This of course leads to increased calorie intake. Trimming back large food portions can go a long way toward preventing weight gain.

  • Instead of serving food family style at the table, serve a portion directly onto your plate and take it to the table.
  • Switch from an oversized dinner plate to a lunch plate size and serve all your meals on those.
  • Measure out the suggested serving size amount of snack foods like chips, pretzels, and nuts into individual baggies or reusable containers instead of eating out of the bag or a large bowl.