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Now that we’re a month into the New Year, it’s a good time to assess how those New Year’s resolutions are going. Are your old eating habits sneaking back up on you? Maybe you tried to take on too many changes at once, or you set unrealistic goals, or the scale isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like. Maybe a shift in focus is in order. Rather than trying to tackle everything at once, think about a few small changes that you’re confident you can make right away, even today. That way you’ll build on each small success and rebuild a healthier and better diet, step by step.
A few small changes over the course of the day really can make a huge difference in the overall quality of your diet. Think about your typical diet, the foods you eat day in and day out, and target just one change. Just ditching soda in favor of water at one meal, for example, can cut at least 150 calories and about 10 teaspoons of sugar out of your day.
Change is hard. It’s been estimated that it takes at least six weeks or so for new habits to start to replace the old ones. If your diet is filled with fast food, devoid of fruits and veggies, or is a patchwork of unplanned quick meals or snacks, it can be overwhelming to make all the changes you know you should—especially all at once.
So, here are five simple things you can do today to vastly improve your diet.
• Switch to 100% whole grain bread. Swap in whole grain bread instead of the usual white bread for sandwiches or toast. It’s easy to do at home, and many restaurants now offer whole grain bread as an option. Nutrition Boost: An extra dose of much needed fiber.
• Double-up your veggies at dinner. Fill at least half your plate with veggies and salads. When you’re out, skip the starch and double up on the veggies or have extras added to a sandwich. Nutrition Boost: Nutrient density—you’ll be getting plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in exchange for a low-calorie cost.
• Have one calcium-rich food. Add a glass of nonfat milk, a scoop of cottage cheese, a carton of yogurt or a stick of string cheese to your day. If you can’t tolerate dairy products, many soy milks, cheeses and yogurts are calcium-fortified. Nutrition Boost: A good dose of bone-building calcium.
• Try some seafood. Canned tuna can be mixed with mashed avocado for a healthy sandwich spread, or tossed over some pre-washed salad greens for a quick meal. If you lean towards red meat or chicken at meals, try a serving of grilled fish or shellfish instead. Nutrition Boost: Fish contains heart-healthy omega-3 fats, yet it’s low in calories and high in protein.