Overhauling your unhealthy diet can seem overwhelming, but there are a variety of small changes for weight loss that can be easily made. Achieving a better diet will not occur with one big change; instead, you'll need to start trying out a few healthy swaps.
Easy Steps to Eating Healthy
Losing weight is a matter of finding what changes you can make and sustain toward a healthy diet. Whether you need to cut some foods out completely or change the way you consume them, you'll need to experiment with a number of healthy swaps to find what works for you.
Swap Whites for Wheats
Some of the healthy swaps that will help you lose weight are simply a matter of purchasing different basics. Anjali Shah, health coach and author of the Picky Eater blog, suggests cutting out any white grains. "This means cutting out all: white bread, white rice, white pasta, all-purpose flour, pizza dough, etc. and replacing it with sprouted wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat pita bread," she explains.
Stop Buying Soda - Try Sparkling Water
Removing some other temptations from your household is another method of starting a healthy diet. If you stop buying soda, you won't be able to drink it anymore! One can, or 12 ounces of Coca-Cola, contains 150 calories. If you're drinking two cans daily, that is an additional 2,100 calories weekly. Since you need to cut 3,500 calories to lose one pound of weight, by simply not drinking soda for 12 days, you can lose one pound. Without making any other changes, you'll have already achieved your better diet. If you're drinking more soda on a regular basis, you'll lose weight even more quickly. Not quite ready to give up your sweet drinks? Anjali suggests combining plain sparkling water with one tablespoon of fruit juice. This will be enough to make your beverage sweet without adding too many unnecessary calories or sugar to your day. Don't rely too much on juice though -- a full glass can do just as much damage to your calorie count as a glass of soda.
Switch From Cake to Chocolate Covered Fruits
Love to satisfy your sweet tooth after a meal? Try avoiding processed snacks or cake. Anjali says, "When you're searching for that sweet treat after dinner, or get the munchies around 3 PM, reach for a piece of fresh fruit instead of candy, chips, or packaged/processed foods. Your waistline will thank you!" You may also want to try small portions of a sweet but healthy snack to replace your desert if you need a small step along the way to cutting out dessert. Try a chocolate covered strawberry or chocolate covered pomegranate seeds to ease your transition. It'll be easier to make small steps to eating healthy than to completely cut out your favorite indulgences all at once.
Chocolate Covered PomegranatesTry dark chocolate, a healthier alternative to milk!
Calorie Cutting Myths
Some of the most shared dieting knowledge can actually harm your quest for a better diet. While you're making your healthy swaps, try not to fall prey to these traps.
Eat Salads Instead of Sandwiches!
Whenever people think of dieting or make healthier choices, one of their default healthy swaps is to eating salads. They're green and boring, so they must be healthy, right? Not always. If you're thinking that simply eating a bunch of lettuce will be one of the easy ways to be healthy, think again. The lettuce in a salad typically has very little nutrition to offer. You should instead be focusing on what's in your salad. If the salad you have for lunch is loaded with nuts, a cheese, a creamy dressing and another form of protein, it may contain as many calories as your favorite piece of pizza. Think of the lettuce instead as a blank slate. What you put on top counts the most, so try not to load up! Using a squeeze of lemon or simple oil and vinegar as your dressing can make a world of difference in your salad. And try making a healthy food change by opting for beans instead of nuts or cheese. The fiber makes beans more filling, while avoiding the fat and calories found in both nuts and cheese.
Carbs Make You Fat
Just cutting out carbs is not the most efficient way to achieve a simple healthy diet. If you are consuming most of your calories in the form of simple carbohydrates (white bread, rice, pasta, etc.), it may be contributing to weight gain or obesity. However, simply replacing your carbs with other calories is not the answer. Many carb-heavy foods, especially whole grains, contain a high amount of fiber. Fiber can keep you full longer and make your body work harder to digest. Rather than cutting out all carbs, do as Anjali said above. Replace any white grains with whole wheat or grains. This small change for weight loss will make far more of a difference than cutting out carbs completely. You may find yourself reaching for nuts or other supposedly healthy snacks that are much higher in calorie counts.
Eat Five Small Meals/One Big Meal/Nothing After 10 PM...
Calories and other macronutrients don't know or care what time of day they are consumed. Whether you're consuming everything you'll eat for the day at once or grazing from 8 AM to 11 PM doesn't make a difference. What matters to your body is how much food you are consuming. Although eating multiple small meals may help you better control your appetite, not every small change for weight loss is universal. Experiment with your meal times to discover what works for you and stick with it!
Moral of the Story: Focus on What Works for You
A lot of conventional wisdom about healthier eating only works for some people. Making changes to your diet is not the matter of an afternoon's work. You need to work to find the healthy swaps that work you personally. If you can't cut your soda habit, but love trying out whole grains and fruits and veggies, start there. It will be much easier for you to make a number of small changes toward a better diet over the course of a few months than trying to cut out everything 'bad' in one day. This all or nothing approach to weight loss and dieting contributes to the yo-yo effect of regaining any weight lost. Make one healthy swap and stick to it for two weeks. If you don't miss whatever you cut out, try making one more swap. Before you know it, you'll be happier and healthier. And you won't even miss eating dessert!