You recognize you’d like to make a change in your eating habits, but you aren’t sure how to go about making this shift a sustainable reality. This article will review a few healthy eating habits and ways you can make sustainable changes, one small step at a time. Avoiding drastic changes that are unrealistic to keep up with in the long term (think months and years) is critical. The good news is that working towards a healthier lifestyle is easier than you might think.
Sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give yourself some grace. It’s all about small, consistent, and sustainable steps. A good rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Harsh nutrition strategies that promise a quick fix should be avoided. This includes things like fad diets, elimination of entire food groups, or severe restriction of certain types of food. Although instant gratification in terms of weight loss (or whatever is being promoted) may sound gratifying short term, these types of solutions usually fail long-term. This isn’t because you failed, but because living with significant food restrictions is hard to maintain for too long. Most people end up falling off the bandwagon and end up right back where they started. Instead, think of small changes you are confident you can keep up with. This can impact your health in big ways over time.
9 tips for a healthy lifestyle rooted in healthy eating
- Think about what you can add to your diet. Choose healthy fat sources, like avocado, olive oil, nuts, or seeds. Choose a variety of protein sources like chicken, seafood, eggs, beans, or soy products. Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products when it comes to milk, yogurt, or cheese. Aim for at least half the grains you consume to be whole grains, like whole wheat bread over white bread.
- Embrace the rainbow. Eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. Try adding a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks. Not only are they packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but they are also delicious.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water. Hydration is key for your health and well-being. Choose water over sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda, most of the time. Try adding fruits or vegetables (lemon, lime, berries, cucumber) to your water if you prefer something flavored.
- Cook at home more often. Cooking at home can be a game-changer, especially in terms of having more control over your food choices. With a little planning and preparation, cooking at home can make it easier to make healthier choices.
- Go grocery shopping with a plan and avoid going while hungry. Cooking at home means planning what you’ll eat and then grocery shopping for those items. Go with a plan to avoid buying items you don’t need. Don’t go while you’re hungry to reduce the likelihood of impulsively buying less nutritious foods.
- Read food labels. You can do this when you grocery shop to help guide your choices. Pay attention to added sugar, sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat. This will help you make informed choices about what you put in your cart. For most adults, added sugar and saturated fat should be limited to less than 10 percent of your daily calories, sodium should be less than 2300 mg per day, and trans fat should be as minimal as possible.
- Eating mindfully. This can help you enhance your relationship with food, enjoy what you are eating, and prevent overeating. Try to slow down, savor each bite, choose foods that satisfy you, and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
- Indulge mindfully and moderately. Treat yourself occasionally with fun foods that satisfy you. Be mindful of your portion to maintain balance. It won’t derail your progress if you choose to enjoy it in moderation.
- Move your body. Exercise goes hand in hand with a healthy diet. Regular physical activity can boost your mood, increase your strength, and reduce your risk of disease. Try to gradually work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate physical activity spread throughout the week. This could be any physical activity you enjoy, whether it’s a quick workout at home, dancing, walking, or hitting the gym.
Take one small step today.
Creating sustainable change supporting your health and well-being is about taking small daily steps. Reflect on your current eating habits and highlight areas that could use your focus, then start working on them individually. Believe in yourself. Celebrate your wins! Start with one small change today; before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier you.
Remember that individual nutritional needs vary based on several factors. For a customized plan, consult a registered dietitian or healthcare professional to consider specific lifestyle factors and personal health goals.