The Ultimate Guide to Launching a New Year Nutrition Program

December 14, 2023

Unsurprisingly, people tend to overindulge in December, especially considering the many forces that can influence behaviors. 

For starters, it’s a time of year when food and beverage brands crank up their marketing and advertising spend – an activity consumers readily admit sways their purchasing decisions. A quick scroll through Instagram and other social media apps reveals many celebrities and influencers we admire sharing their favorite decadent recipes and treats. 

Actress Jennifer Garner’s Instagram account featuring a video of her making chocolate chip cookies in her kitchen.

So, it’s also not surprising that many people seek a reset once the calendar flips over to January. And that means now is the optimal time to add “launching a group nutrition program” to your business goals for the new year. 

Keep reading for the critical steps to consider when planning your nutrition program. 

Before you start, find the right nutrition program platform

If you haven’t run a nutrition program before, you’ll save a lot of time and effort if you run it on a dedicated platform. There are plenty of course software available on the market today, but not all online course software was built with nutrition professionals in mind.

If you’re already a Practice Better customer and you’re running your programs elsewhere, you’re missing out on:

  • Organized client progress and notes, all in one place
  • Powerful reporting
  • Flexible content modules
  • Engagement tools like quizzes
  • Self-paced, evergreen, and fixed-date programs
  • Email-only or in-platform options
  • Integrating recipes, meal plans, and more from That Clean Life

Check out Practice Better Programs to learn more about how this feature can save you time and help you grow your practice on your terms.

Step #1: Connect to motivation

In 2023, the top four New Year’s resolutions were related to health and nutrition: 

  • Improved mental health (45%)
  • Improved fitness (39%)
  • Lose weight (37%)
  • Improved diet (33%)

Despite the popularity of these resolutions, a person’s enthusiasm for changing their approach to health and nutrition can quickly plummet as the realities of adopting new habits set in. This decline in motivation happens faster than you might think. In fact, one study found January 12 is the day most people give up their New Year’s resolution around diet and nutrition. 

While there will be outliers who stick with their resolutions longer (and others who see them through), overall it’s challenging for people to stay motivated when making significant lifestyle changes. This makes it extra important to encourage your clients to set goals and bake in accountability for changing their dietary habits in order to make new habits stick. 

  • Writing goals down provides a roadmap clients can follow so they don’t lose their way on the path to desired results.
  • Documenting goals also helps with accountability by providing something concrete to refer back to if choices start going off the rails.
  • Keeping goals realistic and specific will help to drive greater success. For example, a goal to lose weight by springtime and drink more water every day doesn’t give you anything to check progress against. In contrast, a documented goal to drop 10 pounds over three months and increase water intake to 64 oz daily is easy to measure.

Your free New Year 21-Day Meal Prep Challenge

Enter the code PBNYCHALLENGE into your Practice Better portal to redeem this free done-for-you program to help your clients in the new year.

For detailed instructions on how to customize the program, including free Canva templates and customizable videos, download the guide here.

Step #2: Needs assessment

Before you dive into creating program content, you need to conduct a thorough assessment.

Asking clients the right questions will provide you with quality data for creating targeted plans to achieve health goals. 

Using pre-built form templates greatly simplifies the assessment process. For example, That Clean Life has an assessment template built right into Practice Better. 

A drop down list showing a few of the templates available in Practice Better.

If you’re building out your own assessment, here are some basic details you can include:

  • Client demographics, including age, height, and weight. 
  • Current health, lifestyle, and dietary practices, along with goals related to each.
  • The client’s history with dieting.
  • Health conditions to take into consideration – e.g., IBS, kidney disease, high blood pressure.
  • Food sensitivities, allergies, or restrictions.
  • Household responsibilities for grocery shopping and meal preparation.
  • Hopes, fears, and aspirations around participating in the program. 

When you’re setting realistic nutritional goals don’t forget to include both short- and long-term goals to help bolster motivation. For example, a short-term goal might be to reduce sugar intake by 20 grams per day within the first month of the program. A longer-term goal could be to eliminate all refined sugar within four months.

Step #3: Create your nutrition program (and run it in Practice Better)

There’s a reason that Pinterest has almost 500 million active users every month: the combination of rich visuals and actionable information makes for a powerful source of inspiration. It also keeps people coming back for more. 

Likewise, offering customized meal plans in your nutrition program is a solid strategy for getting clients excited and keeping them motivated. Incorporating lots of variety in the foods they can consume makes for well-rounded nutrition and stops program participants from getting bored. Including grocery lists and prep guides will help clients stay organized and on track.

That Clean Life + Practice Better integration makes creating your program easy

Luckily, all of this is very easy to do with Practice Better’s That Clean Life integration, which allows you to quickly add recipes and meal plans, templates, and collections to your Program in Practice Better. This way, you can create a truly comprehensive, holistic, new year program for your clients, in addition to your beautiful That Clean Life meal plans.

You can further lighten your workload by creating one overarching program that focuses on a particular dietary framework that can be leveraged across many clients. A general healthy eating challenge, many of which are available on That Clean Life, is also an important tool for those health and wellness professionals who can’t recommend a dietary plan as a treatment. For example:

  • A Mediterranean diet program featuring heart-healthy recipes packed with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats. 
  • A vegan program that includes plant-based meals featuring key nutrients, including fiber, iron, zinc, and healthy fats.
  • A balanced diet program that helps clients get back to basics with a focus on delicious, simple, minimally processed foods.  
  • A sugar-free program that helps clients break free from sweet holiday habits by focusing on meals packed with vegetables, legumes, and whole grains that keep them feeling full and satisfied.  
A photo of lentil and chickpea pasta salad from That Clean Life, part of the 21-Day New Year Meal Prep Challenge.

Once you have the basic meal plan structure, you can make tweaks to customize it for a client’s unique preferences. Lighten your load further by giving them the tools to do it themselves. You can achieve this by pairing a collection of recipes to match their dietary needs and goals with a blank meal plan they can fill out themselves. Don’t forget to include instructions on how to create the perfect plan. 

If you have clients in your program with more particular dietary needs, you can offer 1:1 sessions for even more fine-tuning.

Step #4: Integrate exercise and other lifestyle considerations

You can help your clients feel healthier faster by incorporating complementary elements into your program:

  • Physical activity – A daily walking practice supports cardiovascular health, regulates appetite, and burns calories. Add in weight lifting to build muscle that helps burn calories more efficiently and improve insulin sensitivity. Your program can start clients off slow and gradually increase the difficulty so they are more apt to stay compliant. 

If clients already use an app like Fitbit or Apple Health, linking it with your practice management solution gives you automatic access to a wealth of data. Bonus: No more chasing clients with reminders to track their activity. 

  • Mindful eating – Coach clients to slow down and focus on enjoying every bite of their meals to give their bodies more time to register satiety while aiding digestion. Teach them to be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating.
  • Prioritizing quality sleep – Share information on how sleep deprivation disrupts the balance of hunger hormones, leads to unhealthy food cravings, and causes metabolic changes that can hinder weight loss efforts. Provide lifestyle strategies to help achieve 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night:
    • Turn off screens an hour before bedtime.
    • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine close to bedtime.
    • Adhere to regular sleep and wake times.
    • Incorporate sleep-promoting supplements, such as magnesium.

Step #5: Offer support and accountability

Cravings. Boredom. Feeling time crunched. A lack of social support. There are many obstacles that can sabotage a client’s ability to stick to a nutrition program. Planning for these hiccups ahead of time will keep your clients on track and help them recover if they do stumble.

  • Provide a built-in support system – Creating a group chat for all clients going through a similar program gives people a safe place to ask questions, share, vent frustrations, and offer emotional support. Make sure the rules of engagement are clear and you’re checking in regularly to maintain a supportive and respectful environment. 
  • Establish metrics for success – You can’t determine whether you’ve reached a goal if you don’t know what you’re measuring. Metrics can be wide-ranging, depending on the intent of the program and a client’s individual goals. You can have a mix of quantitative (e.g., improved blood pressure or weight loss) and qualitative (e.g., increased energy levels or changes in positive body image).  
  • Track changes in weight, energy levels, and mood – Giving clients a tool to track their progress can boost motivation while keeping them accountable. For example, a Food & Mood journal lets you set targets and support their journey while gaining a direct window into their nutrient intake and mood in relation to the foods they are eating. 
  • Adjust goals when necessary – Life happens and priorities change. Of course, you want clients to achieve their goals, but letting them know there is flexibility to adjust on the fly can keep them engaged. 

Ideally, you’ll have an automated way to monitor progress against goals. For example,  Practice Better will automatically send goal-setting forms at the start of the program along with the first module teaching them to set SMART goals. As you release new modules, you can include a goal check-in form that clients can use to record their progress. This lets you identify where and when to intervene. 

  • Celebrating small victories along the way – Every program has an end date, but you don’t have to wait for it to arrive to acknowledge achievements. Send a client who hits their water consumption goals for five days straight a virtual “cheers!” Post comments or add emojis to their online journal to celebrate good choices. Pop into the group chat and give a shout out for all their hard work. 

Step #6: Support your clients’ long-term success

As difficult as it can be to get through a nutrition program, sustaining a new lifestyle for the long-term is the ultimate challenge. There are certain elements you can bake into your program that can support this goal: 

  • Education and skill development – Ideally, your program teaches clients how to make informed choices. Adding meal planning techniques, shopping lists, and preparation guidance will boost their confidence in making healthy choices and creating routines with staying power. 
  • Mindset and behavior strategies – Practicing journaling, portion control, and mindful eating helps to entrench habits beyond the program limits.
  • Personalization – By offering adaptable meal plans built to accommodate different dietary needs and preferences, you make it easier for clients to fit in new habits that serve them well. Adjusting goals to each individual also ensures every client experiences wins that are personally meaningful. 

As you’re building your program, make sure you take some time to reflect on what happens after the program ends. How can you stay connected with clients for the long term? 

  • Consider offering ongoing support through resources or community forums that help sustain motivation and accountability.
  • Delivering 1:1 or group telehealth check-ins is a frictionless way to stay connected and provide ongoing support without requiring in-office visits.
  • A follow up maintenance program can also be an easy sell, particularly since you’ve established credibility via the meal plans and support you offered through your initial program.
  • If you’re active on a particular social media channel, invite program participants to follow you. They will see your familiar face and helpful content in their feed on a regular basis, which makes them more apt to reach out or sign up for new offers in the future.
  • Having program participants opt-in to your email list will also give you an owned channel to reach out in the future with new offerings. 

Getting past the creation hump

No matter how many awesome ideas you have for creating your nutrition program, you still have to build it. That’s the hardest part, particularly in a month when you’re trying to wrap up all the end-of-year loose ends. 

Help is here! We’ve created a done-for-you program you can run with your clients in the new year. You can grab your free copy using the code PBNYCHALLENGE. Not a Practice Better customer yet? No problem. Try it free for 14 days.

Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.

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