Everyone wants to eat healthier. A better diet may help you live longer, feel better and avoid the health problems that are often associated with aging. But clearing out the pantry and making radical changes is unrealistic for most people. You can improve your diet and see positive changes quickly with a few easy steps.
1. Addition, Not Subtraction
Thinking about all of the delicious things you have to give up to improve your health can leave you feeling deprived before you even start.
Instead of focusing on what you need to cut out, focus on foods you could add to boost your health. If you want to lose weight, the AARP (formerly called the American Association of Retired Persons) suggests adding more plant-based foods, more fish, and more meals eaten with friends and family. That doesn’t sound too hard!
Other healthy additions to your diet should include:
- Almonds and walnuts
- Hemp and chia seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Greek yogurt
- One more serving of vegetables (however many servings you usually eat, add one more)
The more colorful and diverse your diet is, the healthier it will be.
2. Slow Down
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends eating more slowly as a way to manage portion size and improve your health. Eating too quickly leads to eating more than your body really needs or wants.
In addition to slowing down, don’t feel compelled to clean your plate. Stop eating when you get full, even if there are a few bites left. Remember, you’re a grown-up now, and you can still have dessert even if you didn’t eat all of your broccoli!
3. Be Mindful
Take time to reflect on your eating habits. Instead of setting an ambiguous goal like “I need to do better,” plan two or three things you can do right now to reach your wellness goals. Changes like no snacking in the car or having a protein bar for your morning snack instead of a doughnut can add up quickly.
4. Visit a Nutritionist
Not all doctors have a background in nutrition. If yours doesn’t, getting advice from a licensed nutritionist may be more helpful than seeking advice from your primary care physician. One visit to a nutritionist can provide a host of information about easy ways to improve your diet without a major overhaul.
5. Use a Grocery List
You are much more likely to impulse buy — or rely on go-to comfort foods — when you go to the grocery store without a list. Shopping from a list will also help you trim your grocery budget as it forces you to think ahead and do some meal planning.
6. Eat Your Eggs
Eggs were on the naughty list for a while, but recent studies show that eggs provide a host of health benefits, especially when eaten in the morning. Though they are high in cholesterol, eggs do not affect blood cholesterol levels in the majority of people.
Eating eggs may also help reduce your risk of heart disease, and pasture-raised eggs could lower triglyceride levels. They are also a filling, low-calorie source of protein that can help you lose weight.
7. Drink More Water
Better hydration may be the easiest step you can take to improve your health. You’ll feel the benefits within days, not months. Drinking adequate amounts of water can help improve mental clarity and increase energy levels. To make sure you get enough water, drink from a refillable water bottle and keep track of how many times you refill it in a day.
Get Healthier, Get Moving!
Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. When you start eating better, you’ll feel more energized and have more interest in physical activity.
Once your body feels better, you may be tempted to overdo it on exercise, but slow, steady improvement is best. If you’ve been inactive, start with a walk around the block and build up from there. By the end of the month, you may be investing in a new pair of running shoes.