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Making a few small diet changes every month can add up to big results. Taken together, one month’s suggested changes could save you enough calories to drop nearly 25lbs / 11kgs in a year.
You might have heard that it takes only a few weeks to establish a new eating habit. Here’s hoping that those diet and lifestyle resolutions you made at the beginning of the year should have taken hold by now. But in reality, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to forming new eating habits. For some, a new habit may well be established after a few weeks, but for others it could take much longer for diet changes to comfortably settle in.
My guess is that those who take the ‘baby steps’ approach to diet changes probably do a bit better than those who try to tackle too much at one time. That’s one reason I suggested at the end of last year that you might try making just a few small changes every month throughout the year, rather than taking on a lot of big changes at once. The idea is simply this: taken together, many small changes over time can lead to big results. And since little dietary changes are easier to practice every day, you’ll always be reinforcing those new eating habits for a lifetime.
If you made diet resolutions in January, how are you doing? Are you sticking with your plans? Or did you try to do too much at once? Did you just fall right back into your old habits? Do you even remember what you promised yourself you were going to do? If you haven’t made the progress you’d hoped you would, there’s a good chance that you either tried to do too much at once, or the changes you tried to make were too drastic.
Sticking with the idea that small changes add up to big results, here are my suggestions for three small diet changes you might want to try this month. Taken together, they could add up to some pretty impressive results.
The practice of leaving a few bites of food on your plate is designed to help you get in touch with your ‘fullness’ signals. Training yourself to stop eating when you’re comfortably satisfied will help you learn how much food you actually need at a sitting. One way to do that is to leave a few bites on your plate so you can practice paying attention to your internal signals. Too often, we rely on an empty plate to tell us we’re finished eating—and by then we may have eaten a lot more than we should.
Big Result #1: It’s been estimated that a single bite of food averages about 25 calories. Let’s suppose you leave 2 bites of food on your plate at two meals every day. That’s a daily savings of 100 calories—and in a year’s time, that could add up to a 10lb /4.5kg weight loss.
If most evenings you sit down to a typical meal that consists of a protein, a vegetable and a starch, try making this change just three times a week. Simply omit the starchy portion of your meal—the rice, the noodles, the potato—and double up on your vegetables.
Big Result #2: A portion of cooked rice, noodles or potato has well over 200 calories, while the same amount of cooked vegetables has about 50 calories. Every time you make this change, you’ll save about 150 calories. Make this change three times a week for a year, and you’ll save enough calories to lose almost 7lbs / 3kgs.
If you’re counting on fruit juices to help meet your recommended daily fruit servings, you could shave quite a few calories if you switch to whole fruit instead. One problem with fruit juice is that it lacks the filling fiber that you find in whole fruits. A typical glass of fruit juice might contain the equivalent of several pieces of fruit, but it won’t be nearly as filling. While you may not eat 2 or 3 oranges in a sitting, it’s not difficult to drink the calorie equivalent in a glass of orange juice.
Big Result #3: Let’s say you eat a whole orange instead of drinking a 12-ounce (375mL) glass of orange juice in the morning. Every time you do that, you save about 100 calories (and you’d pick up about 3 grams of fiber, too). Now suppose you make that swap 5 times a week. That one little change could save you enough calories to drop 7.5 lbs / 3.4kgs s in a year.