If you have decided to adopt a healthy lifestyle and and improve your health, good for you! Of course, now comes the hard work. While some people can manage a complete lifestyle change, for most people trying to radically overhaul unhealthy habits can increase the chances that they will fall off the wagon. That can nullify any progress and and hurt their self-esteem and motivation. Instead, experts at Harvard University’s medical school recommend small changes at a time.
Here are a few simple, realistic changes that you can make to your diet. Pick one or two to start, and set reachable goals with reasonable time periods. When you feel confident that you have mastered those, add others.
- Eat more salad
Fiber fills you up and makes you feel satiated for longer. Filling up on fresh fruit and vegetables can help you avoid snacking on fatty or sugary food. When shopping, choose vegetables with edible stalks, skins, membranes, and seeds such as spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, apples, and oranges as these have the most fiber. Instead of biscuits or chips, snack on nuts and seeds. Also, swap refined grain foods such as white bread and rice for whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread. Add pulses to your salads, soups or meals. They’re a delicious accompaniment to all kinds of dishes and can significantly up your fiber intake.
- Cut out “diet” items
This is especially relevant to diet colas and drinks and food with artificial sweeteners. Research has shown that when mice were given a choice between artificial and real sugar, most of them chose real sugar. In conclusion, researchers believed that the brains of mice couldn’t be tricked with the artificial sweetener. The same principle could be applied to humans too. Therefore, even if you consume the fake sweetener, chances are you’ll still be craving the real thing soon after. Instead, cutting down on sugary and sweetened foods automatically trains your body to crave them less after a while. If you love flavored drinks, try adding in lime wedges or fresh mint to soda or water. You’ll be surprised at how refreshing it can be.
- Cut down on carbs
Even healthy carbohydrates in excess can hinder weight loss. Try to downsize the carb portion of your meal in favour of fibre-rich vegetables. For example, instead of a cup of brown rice, eat half the amount and eat a variety of vegetables to make up for the deficient. You’ll be cutting out a significant amount of carbohydrates and the extra veggies are likely to leave you feeling even fuller than the rice would.
- Limit alcohol intake
It’s not just that cocktails contain a truckload of calories, but being inebriated can also alter your judgment when it comes to picking the right foods to eat. It’s easy to order a plate of French fries after a few drinks, saying “to hell with the consequences” but it can throw your whole dietary plan out of whack. A healthy lifestyle does not mean that you need to give up alcohol completely. It’s just advisable to drink less often and stick to a limit so that you avoid drunken food binges. A once a week, two-drink limit should keep you safe on your fitness path.
- Choose smart desserts
Avoiding desserts can be a minefield to those trying to lose weight. Nothing is quite as delicious as a slice of cake or a candy bar when it’s forbidden. However, you don’t have to deprive yourself of all things sweet, if you choose well. For example, dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate, as long as you consume the same amounts. Dessert doesn’t always have to be prepared sweet stuff either. Fruits that are in season can also provide a deliciously sweet kick.
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