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Nutritionist offers simple tips for eating better

LAWRENCEVILLE -- It's resolution time.

We've arrived at the time of year when every blue-blooded American vows to shed a few excess pounds, get in shape and eat healthier. For the most part, these ambitious proclamations will fall by the wayside before Valentine's Day -- but why?

Amy Tella, Gwinnett Medical Center's clinical nutrition manager, said the answer is pretty simple, especially when it comes to eating better.

"With any resolution, you expect a quick fix and then when it doesn't happen in a couple days you give up," Tella said. "It takes several weeks to develop a habit whether it's good or bad. To make lifestyle changes you need to give it a chance to work."

In today's world, the excuses are plenty, but mostly center around one explanation: not enough time.

Tella, a registered dietitian who oversees all of GMC's other dietitians, said there are simple ways to get around that. She offered several quick tips for those looking to eat healthier.

-- Planning makes a difference. Go to the grocery store with a list, not a willingness to buy "whatever happens to hop in your cart."

-- Set small goals. Aim for simple targets like eating more fruits and vegetables, or increasing dairy intake. You don't have to be a health nut to eat healthier.

-- Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast gets your metabolism going as you start your day -- and you don't have to stick to traditional breakfast foods. "You can even do a sandwich."

-- Don't skip meals. Just like eating breakfast starts your metabolism, lunch and dinner keep it going throughout the day. Don't starve yourself.

-- If you have to eat out, eat smart. If you're stuck at work and have to swing by a fast-food restaurant, eat smart. Get the single burger, not the triple. Try to get grilled chicken, not fried. Substitute fruit or even a baked potato for french fries.

Eating healthy also doesn't have to be expensive, Tella said. She advised getting in-season fruits and vegetables fresh (they're cheaper), and buying out of season selections frozen or canned. She also said the USDA's website has a helpful section for "meals on a budget."

"It's amazing the amount of food you can get for little money," Tella said.