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Bite Size Goals for Healthy Habits and Cancer Prevention

The new year often begins with setting goals to increase physical activity and make healthier food choices. When setting goals, it is important to make sure they are SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Setting vague goals or those that are difficult to achieve and maintain reduces the likelihood of successful long term lifestyle changes. 

A Healthy Lifestyle is Important for Cancer Prevention

Working toward a healthier lifestyle is important for overall health, as well as for cancer prevention. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends including at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Incorporating more of a plant-based diet is also recommended. This includes foods like:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds 
  • Whole grains

It is recommended that ⅔ of your plate include these types of foods with the remaining ⅓ including foods like seafood, lean meat and poultry. 

SMART Goals Can Help Achieve Lifestyle Recommendations for Cancer Prevention

Setting SMART goals can help to achieve these recommendations. For a person who does not currently exercise, a goal of exercising for 30 minutes, 5 days a week may be unrealistic. Instead choose a goal that can realistically be achieved. 

For example: 

  • Goal: Exercise more frequently
  • SMART Goal: Walk for 20 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Here is another example: 

  • Goal: Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • SMART Goal: Include one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables with lunch and dinner

These goals are more realistic and achievable. They are also specific enough to determine whether or not the goal was achieved. When a goal is achieved, set a new SMART goal and keep making progress toward the overall, long term goal. These small changes lead to a feeling of accomplishment and an increased likelihood that these lifestyle changes can be maintained long term. 

For more information on the current recommendations for cancer prevention and overall health, visit a previous blog post, Cancer Prevention and Nutrition, or www.aicr.org

Get more information on setting SMART goals.

Cheryl Williams RD, LMNT, LD
Cheryl Williams RD, LMNT, LD

Cheryl Williams RD, LMNT, LD is a Registered Dietitian with CHI Health.

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