Healthy eating can be a difficult undertaking. The temptations that can lead you astray come in droves – from the ease of ordering out to the common dessert craving, maintaining a diet is a challenge replete of growling hunger pangs. 

With the dust settled on all that holiday cheer, focus shifts to fulfilling our New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps in the middle of a holiday sweets-eating rampage, you arrived at setting a resolution to eat better. It’s a fairly common resolution, but also a broad one. Technically, eating fewer cookies a week (Cookie Monster’s worst nightmare) is eating better, but is that really helpful?

In theory, curtailing junk food consumption is a great resolution to make, but because it’s such a broad declaration, keeping it and reaping the benefits can be tricky. If your resolution is simply “eat less junk food” then your first step to maintaining it is nixing that all together. Instead, start smaller and more specific with your resolution. Attempting to eat less junk food can feel like you are depriving yourself of something, and that’s discouraging. Discouragement is likely to lead you down a path where you don’t hit your goal. You want the resolution to denote something positive – for example, instead of eating less junk food, the goal is to eat more vegetables.  

When someone says they want to eat less junk food it means they want to consume healthier foods. A good diet doesn’t necessarily mean eating less, but eating right. Keeping your resolution doesn’t have to mean ditching eating frequency, just maybe what you’re eating. 

For example, don’t try to achieve your goal by nixing breakfast. It’s still an important meal. Without it, it develops cravings and slows metabolism. Instead of trying to eat less junk food by no longer having a sugary bowl of cereal in the morning, enjoy some fruit or yogurt for breakfast. 

You don’t have to – and shouldn’t – skip snacks, either. It’s recommended to try not to let more than five hours go by without eating, as it zaps energy and can lead to overeating later. If you are looking for a late afternoon snack at work, eat something healthy so you are less likely to dive into a bag of chips when you arrive home and wait for dinner.

The best way to eat less junk food is to just eat more fruits and vegetables. Let the healthy foods sate your appetite rather than attempting to power through food cravings. Buying pre-cut fruits and vegetables is a good idea so they are readily available and there’s no extra “work” to consume them. 

There’s no need for food deprivation to accomplish your resolution. Focus on eating healthy, and you’ll wind up eating less junk food in the process.