Smaller Changes

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been scientifically proven to provide numerous health benefits, such as reducing your risk of several chronic diseases and keeping your body healthy.

However, making major changes to your diet can sometimes seem very overwhelming.

Instead of making big changes, it may be better to start with a few smaller ones. And it’s likely more manageable to start with just one thing, rather than all of them at once.


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Health and fitness

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Deciding what to have for dinner can be a constant cause of frustration, which is why many people tend to use the same recipes again and again. Chances are you’ve been cooking the same recipes on autopilot for years.

Whether these are healthy or unhealthy recipes, trying something new can be a fun way to add more diversity to your diet.

Aim to try making a new healthy recipe at least once per week.

Alternatively, try to make a healthier version of a favorite recipe by experimenting with new ingredients, herbs, and spices.

1. Slow down

The pace at which you eat influences how much you eat, as well as how likely you are to gain weight.

In fact, studies comparing different eating speeds show that fast eaters are much more likely to eat more and have a higher body mass index (BMI) than slow eaters.

Studies have confirmed this, showing that eating slowly may reduce the number of calories you consume at meals and help you lose weight.

Eating slowly is also linked to more thorough chewing, which has also been linked to improved weight control.

So, simply eating slower and chewing more often may help you eat less.

A good way to ensure that you eat your greens is to enjoy them as a starter.

By doing so, you’ll most likely finish all of your greens while you’re at your hungriest. This may cause you to eat less of other, perhaps less healthy, components of the meal later.

It may lead you to eat fewer and healthier calories overall, which could result in weight loss.

It slows down the speed at which carbs are absorbed into the bloodstream and may benefit both short- and long-term blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of air-popped popcorn contains 387 calories and 15 grams of fiber, while the same amount of potato chips contains 532 calories and only 3 grams of fiber

Diets rich in whole grains have been linked to health benefits, such as a reduced risk of inflammation and heart disease

For a healthy snack, try making your own popcorn at home (not microwave popcorn varieties) or purchase air-popped popcorn.

Many commercial varieties prepare their popcorn with fat, sugar, and salt, making it no healthier than potato chips.

Eggs are incredibly healthy, especially if you eat them in the morning.

They are rich in high quality protein and many essential nutrients that people often don’t get enough of, such as choline.

Eating eggs in the morning increases feelings of fullness. This has been shown to cause people to consume fewer calories at later meals. It can be quite helpful for weight loss.

So, simply replacing your current breakfast with eggs may result in major benefits for your health.

Potatoes are very filling and a common side to many dishes. That said, the method in which they’re prepared largely determines their impact on health.

For starters, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of baked potatoes contain 93 calories, while the same amount of french fries contains over 3 times as many (333 calories).

Furthermore, deep-fried french fries generally contain harmful compounds such as aldehydes and trans fats.

Replacing your french fries with baked or boiled potatoes is a great way to shave off calories and avoid these unhealthy compounds.

Eating from a large plate can make your portion look smaller, while eating from a small plate can make it look bigger.

According to one study, eating from a smaller plate was associated with increased feelings of satiety and reduced energy intake among participants with a healthy body weight.

Also, if you don’t realize that you’re eating more than usual, you won’t compensate by eating less at the next meal. By eating from smaller dinnerware, you can trick your brain into thinking that you’re eating more, making yourself less likely to overeat.

Eating out doesn’t have to involve unhealthy foods.

Consider upgrading your favorite fast food restaurant to one with healthier options.

There are many healthy fast food restaurants and fusion kitchens offering healthy and delicious meals.

They may just be a great replacement for your favorite burger or pizza joint. What’s more, you can generally get these meals at a very decent price

You can easily make your diet a bit healthier by choosing whole grain bread in place of traditional refined grain bread.

Refined grains have been associated with many health issues. Whole grains, on the other hand, have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

They’re also a good source of:

  • fiber
  • B vitamins
  • minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

There are many varieties of whole grain bread available, and many of them even taste better than refined bread.

The way you prepare your food can drastically change its effects on your health.

However, during these types of cooking methods, several potentially toxic compounds are formed. These include polycyclic aromatic hydro carbons, advanced glycation end products, heterocyclic amines

All of these compounds have been linked to several health conditions, including cancer and heart disease.

Healthier cooking methods include:

  • baking
  • broiling
  • poaching
  • pressure cooking
  • simmering
  • slow cooking
  • stewing

These methods don’t promote the formation of these harmful compounds and may make your food healthier.

So-called diet foods can be very deceiving. They have usually had their fat content reduced dramatically and are often labeled “fat-free,” “low fat,” “fat-reduced,” or “low calorie.”

However, to compensate for the lost flavor and texture from fat, sugar and other ingredients are often added.

So, many diet foods end up containing more sugar and sometimes even more calories than their full fat counterparts.

Instead, opt for whole foods like fruits and vegetables.

Approximately 1 billion people around the globe are deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s very important for bone health and the proper functioning of your immune system.

Vitamin D is found in very few foods, but fatty seafood generally contains the highest amounts.

Omega-3 fatty acids are another commonly lacking nutrient that’s found in fatty seafood.

If you don’t eat fatty seafood regularly, you should consider taking a supplement. Omega-3s and vitamin D can often be found together in many supplements.

Try to make a habit of cooking at home most nights rather than eating out.

For one, it’s easier on your budget.

Second, by cooking your food yourself, you’ll know exactly what is in it. You won’t have to wonder about any hidden unhealthy or high calorie ingredients.

Also, by cooking large servings, you’ll also have leftovers for the next day, ensuring a healthy meal then, too.

Finally, cooking at home has been associated with a lower risk of obesity and improved diet quality, especially among children .

Fruits are loaded with water, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Studies have repeatedly linked eating fruit to a reduced risk of several health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Because fruits contain fiber and various plant compounds, their natural sugars are generally digested very slowly and don’t cause major spikes in blood sugar levels.

However, the same doesn’t apply to fruit juices.

Many fruit juices aren’t even made from real fruit, but rather concentrate and sugar. Some varieties may even contain as much sugar as a sugary soft drinks

Sugary beverages might possibly be the unhealthiest thing you can drink.

They’re loaded with added sugar, which has been linked to numerous diseases, including:

  • heart disease
  • obesity
  • type 2 diabetes

Plus, the added sugar found in these drinks doesn’t impact appetite the same way as regular food does. This means you don’t compensate for the calories you drink by eating any less.

Try replacing your sugary beverage with either a sugar-free alternative or simply choose still or sparkling water instead. Doing so will shave off the non-beneficial calories and reduce your intake of excess sugar.

Good nutrition and exercise often go hand in hand. Exercise has been shown to improve your mood, as well as decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.

These are the exact feelings that are most likely to contribute to emotional and binge eating.

Aside from strengthening your muscles and bones, exercise may help you:

  • lose weight
  • increase your energy levels
  • reduce your risk of chronic diseases
  • improve your sleep

Aim to do about 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise each day, or simply take the stairs and go on short walks whenever possible

The importance of good sleep can’t be overstated.

Sleep deprivation disrupts appetite regulation, often leading to increased appetite. This results in increased calorie intake and weight gain.

In fact, people who sleep too little tend to weigh significantly more than those who get enough sleep.

Being sleep deprived also negatively affects concentration, productivity, athletic performance, glucose metabolism, and immune function.

That’s why it’s important to try to get adequate amounts of good-quality sleep, preferably in one bout.

There are two important strategies to employ when you go grocery shopping: Make your shopping list ahead of time and don’t go to the store hungry.

Not knowing exactly what you need makes room for impulse buying, while hunger can cause you to toss even more low nutrient foods into your shopping cart.

That’s why the best strategy is to plan ahead and write down what you need beforehand. By doing this and sticking to your list, you’ll not only buy healthier items to keep around the house, but you’ll also save money.

Many studies have shown that drinking water can increase weight loss and promote weight maintenance, and it may even slightly increase the number of calories you burn each day.

Studies also show that drinking water before meals can reduce your appetite and food intake during the following meal.

That said, the most important thing is to drink water instead of other beverages. This may drastically reduce your intake of sugar and calories.

Drinking water regularly may also be linked to improved diet quality and could decrease your calorie intake from beverages.

One study showed that eating a high-protein meal decreased levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, more than a high-carb meal in people with obesity

What’s more, protein helps you retain muscle mass and may also slightly increase the number of calories you burn per day.

It’s also important for preventing the loss of muscle mass that can occur with weight loss and as you age.

If you’re trying to lose weight, aim to add a source of protein to each meal and snack. It will help you feel fuller for longer, curb cravings, and make you less likely to overeat.

Berries are very healthy and packed with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Most varieties can be purchased fresh, frozen, or dried.

Although all types are relatively healthy, the dried varieties are a much more concentrated source of calories and sugar, since all the water has been removed.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of fresh or frozen strawberries contains 31–35 calories, while 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of dried strawberries contain a whopping 375 calories.

The dried varieties are also often covered with sugar, further increasing the sugar content.

Unfortunately, highly processed seed and vegetable oils have become a household staple over the past few decades.

Examples include soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, and canola oils.

These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids but low in heart-healthy omega-3s.

A high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio can lead to inflammation and has been linked to chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and autoimmune disorders.

Swap these oils for healthier alternatives, such as:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil

Completely overhauling your diet all at once can be a recipe for disaster.

Instead, try to incorporate some of the small changes listed above to make your diet healthier.

Some of these tips will help you keep your portion sizes reasonable, while others will help you add nutrients or adapt to something new.

Together, they’ll have a big impact on making your overall diet healthier and more sustainable, without a huge change in your habits.

Coffee, which is one of the most popular beverages in the world, is very healthy.

In fact, it’s a major source of antioxidants and has been linked to many health benefits, such as a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, mental decline, and liver disease.

However, many commercial varieties of coffee contain lots of additional ingredients, such as sugar, syrup, heavy cream, and sweeteners.

Instead, try drinking your coffee black or just adding a small amount of milk or cream instead of sugar.

Simply getting to the point of being able to order a salad at a restaurant is a great achievement for many.

However, not all salads are equally healthy. In fact, some salads are smothered in high calorie dressings, which may make the salads even higher in calories than other items on the menu.

Asking for the dressing on the side makes it a lot easier to control the portion size and amount of calories that you consume.

Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt.

It has been strained to remove its excess whey, which is the watery part of milk. This results in a final product that’s higher in fat and protein than regular yogurt.

In fact, it contains up to twice as much protein as the same amount of regular yogurt does, or up to 10 grams per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).

Eating a good source of protein can help you feel fuller for longer, which can help manage your appetite and reduce your food intake, if that’s your goal.

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RELATED IDEAS

The Mediterranean Diet

The diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. 

It features fish and poultry—lean sources of protein—over red meat. 

Red wine is consumed regularly but in moderate amounts.

There is no "best diet"

The “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. 

That can be with or without seafood; with or without dairy; with or without eggs; with or without some meat; high or low in total fat.

What successful diets have in common
  • Low in added sugar. 
  • Eliminate refined carbs. 
  • Avoid vegetable oils high in Omega-6 Fat.
  • Eliminate artificial trans fats, linked to inflammation and conditions like heart disease.
  • Emphasize eating plenty of vegetables and in most cases, fruits.
  • Emphasize a lifestyle change that includes whole foods and let weight loss follow as a natural side effect.

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