If the goal of eating healthy continues to top your list of resolutions year after year, it may be due to how you think about goals.

Goals are good , but are often lofty. When you set your sights only on the goal, you may fail to see the systems that need to be put in place to attain it.

Apply the following six methods to finally reach your goal to eat healthy.

Structure each meal.

The best way to do this is to include at least three food groups with every meal. The benefit of this system is you will eat more fruits and vegetables and naturally balance carbs, fat and protein without too much planning or thinking.

» For breakfast, top whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk with berries.

» At lunch, layer in sliced cucumbers and tomato on your turkey sandwich.

» Since corn and potatoes fall into the same food group, replace one with a big helping of steamed broccoli or carrots along with a lean protein at dinner.

Eat fruits and vegetables on a schedule.

Commit to eat a serving of carrots with your lunch daily, and plan to eat an apple at 3 p.m. every day. Believe it or not, after the third week, this system will have you craving your carrots and daily apple at these times.

Make whole grains a priority through the afternoon.

Whole grains help control blood sugar and appetite . Better blood sugar control means you will crave less sugar as the day goes on, and less cravings lead to better food choices. Avoid refined, processed grains through lunch, and you will find that diet control you have been looking for .

Include 8 ounces of low-fat milk with meals. Milk, with its natural balance of carbs and protein, is not just for kids. Milk brings fullness and sustaining energy that keeps us from overeating at meals. It is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin A, making it nutrient-dense for the 100 calories it provides.

Drink 32 ounces of water by lunch and again by dinner.

Typically, the larger the water bottle you carry, the more water you will drink. My favorite is a 32-ounce Nalgene water bottle. The loop on the lid makes it easy to carry. The wide mouth makes it a breeze to wash, and it is easy to fill with my favorite fruit or vegetable to infuse my water with flavor.

Keep looking at what you can do better.

As habits fall into place, and the quality of your diet improves, do not settle. Keep looking for places you can improve by adding in more variety or something new or upgrading to a healthier option. I remind my patients if they just make one small change every three weeks, they will make 17 changes to their diet over the year, which makes a significant difference to their health.

Niki Kubiak is a sports-certified registered dietitian, competitive runner and owner of Niki Kubiak Sports Nutrition and Weight Loss. She blogs regularly for livewellnebraska.com.

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