Ready to get healthier? Here are five expert-recommended ways to change your diet for the better.
1. Track your current eating habits
Many of us eat mindlessly, not really understanding all that we put into our mouths. That’s why becoming aware of your real eating habits is the first step, said registered dietitian nutritionist Kathleen Zelman.
“Write down everything you eat for a day and include details such as time, location and other factors that affect your dietary habits,” Zelman said. “Then sit back, take a closer look, and make a plan on how you can do better.”
Don’t try to be perfect when you start to change your diet, she added. “Instead look for small steps that you can sustain. Then do it again next week.”
2. Plan for success
“We eat what surrounds us,” said Dr. Tom Rifai, who teaches a continuing education class on nutrition and metabolic syndrome at Harvard Medical School.
He suggests shifting your food environment — including your home, your work and your car — by planning ahead. Pack healthy lunches and snacks, and don’t forget travel. “Stop at a grocery store before you get to the hotel so you can stock your room like you would stock your home,” he said.
3. Remove sugar from breakfast
Start your day with a healthier bang by removing sugar from breakfast, suggests Dina Aronson, lead dietitian with Diet ID, which focuses on dietary assessment and health behavior change.
“There’s so many benefits to cutting sugar from the first meal of the day,” she said. “Your blood sugar stays level; your energy and creativity stays high, and it sets the tone for the day.
“Rethinking breakfast is a powerful approach to habit change because it’s a meal most people have every day,” she said. “If no sugar becomes a rule, people learn to love it, and that becomes habit.”
4. Make one meal meatless
5. Eat what you love
We all know eating fruits and veggies are good for us, but they aren’t typically our favorite foods. Yet in order for this new habit to stick you need to get enjoyment out of eating delicious, healthy food, Aronson said.
“How can you enjoy healthy food so it’s never a punishment and always a reward? Figure out what it is you love,” Aronson said. “Love barbecue? Roast some cauliflower with barbecue rub. Delicious!
“Work with an expert or think about ways to incorporate the flavors of food you love into your daily routine until it becomes habit to eat those foods,” she said.