Sometimes small changes make the biggest difference. Maybe this year you thought that you would be able to make some immediate changes to your diet starting in the new year, but failed to make things happen. I know I’ve been there. If you’re not ready to commit to a full-blown diet, but you do want to take a step towards transformation, here are 10 steps you need to follow.
1. Replace One of Your Snacks with a Crunchy Veggie
This is an easy way to start eating healthier almost instantly. There was a point in my life where if you asked me when the last time I ate a veggie was, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. This simple trick is a game changer. Not only are snacks like cucumbers with cream cheese or celery with almond butter filling and delicious, but you feel good about yourself after. Gone are the days of feeling guilty after stuffing yourself with Cheez-Its yet again.
Stick to it! Although, you might not FEEL like having sugar snap peas and hummus instead of your daily Poptart, you’ll be happy you made the switch.
2. Swap Condiments with Salsa
Salsa on everything. Seriously. Salsa is low cal, low sugar, low carb, and therefore, low guilt. Instead of adding barbecue sauce to your chicken, add salsa. Thousand island on your burger? Stop what you’re doing and grab the salsa.
Next time you’re grocery shopping, try a few different varieties of salsa to have with different dishes. I always go for a mango salsa and salsa that packs some heat.
3. Switch to Tiny Plates
Ok. Maybe not this tiny. This step is about portion control. The idea of the smaller plate is that your serving of food will be smaller. You have to go even further with this though. Eat slowly. Drink water before your food. Before you go for seconds, wait 10 minutes. You’ll be eating smaller portions in no time!
4. Trade Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate
While you may think your craving is specifically for a Snickers bar, it’s really just for a little sugar. Before you indulge in your favorite candy, get a sugar fix from a bit of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is packed with fiber, copper, magnesium, and iron. Plus, you’ll be surprised at how well just a bit of it kicks the craving.
5. Reach for the Good Fats
Repeat after me, “you don’t need butter.” The high levels of saturated fat in butter has been known to increase your bad cholesterol. This could potentially put you at risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. So what can you use instead of butter? Try olive oil next time. Or if you’re feeling fancy, try out avocado oil or sunflower oil which are both heart-healthy options.
6. ALWAYS Have a Veggie with Dinner
It can be hard to get a serving of veggies in. Start making it a point to have at least one serving of veggies at dinner. And no. Potatoes do not count here. Go for the greens. Make it fun by trying out vegetable you’ve never heard of. Even main stream grocery stores are starting to have a more interesting selection.
7. Be Mindful
Munching on the couch while you watch TV? Snapchatting, Facebooking, Instagraming, Pinteresting, or some other apping while you eat? Stop what you’re doing and focus on the food! Enjoy your food. Be thankful. Make eating about replenishment, not just something to do while you’re bored. Mindfulness truly is an amazing diet trick you haven’t tried yet.
8. Spice Up Your Life
Stop relying on salt, artificial flavors, and sugary condiments. Start using spices to make your dishes more interesting. Not only do they add a ton of flavor, but they’re often very nutrient dense.
Next time you’re cooking, try using ginger, lemongrass, garlic, or even turmeric. Not only will you seem like an expert chef with these ingredients, but they also have some awesome health benefits.
9. Add in Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are packed with probiotics. They deliver beneficial bacteria to the gut which is essential for good digestion and immune function. Adding in these types of foods is as easy as eating Greek yogurt for a snack. You could also try kombucha, kefir, miso, or my personal favorite, sauerkraut.
10. Indulge Every Once in a While
Treat yourself! But not too often. We can’t limit ourselves too often because life without dessert is no life at all. If you decide to have a tasty treat, just make sure it’s small and you’re not indulging in it every day. Have your snack, and try not to feel guilty!