Making drastic dietary changes seems to be the number one resolution people make every year. We aren’t close to the holidays yet, but there are many people who are looking for the next best thing in dietary changes.
Making healthy dietary changes can seem daunting and that’s because there are so many messages out there for the best way towards reaching health and fitness goals. Many people feel desperate to try the next greatest thing to help them reach those goals the fastest, and that goal is often weight loss.
It’s estimated that 45 million people “go on a diet” each year and Americans spend a whopping 33 BILLION DOLLARS each year on hopeful weight loss products. That’s a lot of money to spend and still not see and feel the changes we desire.
Instead of focusing on extreme changes for a short period of time (which tend to have short lived results) maybe it is time to consider making long lasting lifestyle changes that will help you feel well and stay healthy.
Make dietary changes when you are truly ready.
To help make changes stick long term, make those changes when you are ready to do so, not when you feel pressured to do it.
Begin by creating a list of small, realistic and achievable goals. This helps make change a bit easier and keeps motivation up over time. Creating lofty and unachievable goals is a great way to kill momentum and motivation. But, don’t wait for January 1st to start making changes.
Can you lose weight by only changing your diet?
Yes but the changes may not be as apparent or as IMPORTANT as you’d like them to be. With dietary changes you will see improvements in many aspects of personal health, like lower cholesterol, increased energy, clearer skin, better bowel movements and maybe changes in any prescriptions your doctor has previously prescribed.
When you add physical activity, better sleep habits and relaxation practices to the mix, you are most likely going to see the best results with the goals you have set.
What CAN you do with nutrition today, to improve your success with your health and fitness goals? Try these 5 dietary changes now.
1. Eat breakfast regularly
Eating breakfast is huge, it’s a great way to jumpstart your metabolism for the day and an extra opportunity to get all the nutrients you need.
Breakfast helps to give you energy to get through the morning and also helps with concentration. This is especially important for your kids so be sure they are starting the day off with a breakfast of protein, complex carbs, fruit and even veggies!
If you are not a breakfast eater, start small and consider having a fruit or yogurt within one hour of waking. Once you get into the routine of eating in the morning, start adding in different food groups to make your breakfast complete.
Try whole grains, such as oats or hearty bread, fruit or vegetable, protein sources like eggs, natural nut butters and dairy or a dairy-free alternative.
2. Include more fruit and vegetables in meals and snacks
This one is a no brainer, everyone knows fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and disease fighting antioxidants. Unfortunately many of us fall short when it comes to meeting our requirements for them each day.
Consider adding fruit and/or vegetables to each of your meals and snacks.
Top cereal, yogurt and bowls of oats with fruit, add chopped veggies into omelettes, include vegetable soups and salads at lunch, sneak them into sandwiches, dip in hummus for snacking and grate or mash them into muffin, cookie or pancake recipes.
There are so many ways to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Start slow by adding in 1 more vegetable or fruit each week until you are getting 5-10 servings per day.
One serving is equal to ½ cup of cut up fruit or vegetables, 1 cup of leafy greens raw, ½ cup when cooked, 1 medium apple or banana and ½ cup of berries or grapes. Check out the USDA website for more information about serving sizes.
3. Choose whole grains over white and overly processed grains
Eating more whole grains provides you with fiber and B vitamins as well as other vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. Fiber keeps the GI system moving smoothly and some types of fiber help with stabilizing blood sugar and reducing cholesterol levels.
To get more whole grains, experiment with different kinds of grains that you have not tried before.
4. Experiment with “Meatless Mondays” and cut back on animal protein
Plant based diets are gaining popularity and for good reason. Studies are showing that people who follow a plant based lifestyle are less likely to develop chronic disease in their lifetime.
It is suspected that the antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals in plant based proteins have a protective effect on health. While other studies show that animal proteins have been linked to higher rates of chronic disease.
This data doesn’t mean that you have to follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, but it is beneficial to reduce your intake of animal proteins. Substitute these foods with plant based proteins such as nuts, seeds, natural nut butters, soy products, legumes, beans and lentils. Trust me! You won’t miss out on protein.
5. Prepare food at home more often
Preparing food at home has its advantages, especially when it comes to health. Making food at home means you have control over the ingredients you add and are more likely to have a meal that is lower in salt, fat and sugar when compared to take out and restaurant meals.
Cooking at home also helps kids learn more about food and helps them pick up cooking skills that will serve them well later in life.
Include family members in meal planning and keep meals simple, it doesn’t have to be fancy on a Tuesday night. Consider one pot meals and slow cooker or instant pot dishes with grains and protein, pair with a side salad and you have a complete meal.
When we overcomplicate nutrition and the food we eat, its easy to create goals that are impossible to achieve. Make small and realistic goals you know you can reach to help you feel great inside and out.
Try this recipe for your next, (or first) Meatless Monday!
Meatless Sweet Potato and Brown Rice Bowl
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes optional
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled, diced
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup brown rice cooked
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup cucumbers chopped
- 1 medium tomato diced
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
- Chop onion and mince garlic. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
- Once oil shimmers, add onion; saute for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and toss for 30 seconds.
- Add all spices, chickpeas, sweet potato and water. Stir together and bring water to a slow boil. Turn down heat, simmer for 15-20 minutes or until sweet potato is soft.
- Add cooked brown rice to bowls, then sweet potatoes and chickpeas. Add toppings of choice, serve.