Healthy changes don't need to be drastic

Making small changes to your diet can result in a healthier you.

The internet is packed with strict diet plans and nutrition advice. Making such major changes are not only hard to implement but hard to stick to as well. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be a drastic change. Here are some small changes that you can make to help improve your health and increase your nutritional intake.

Avoid fad diets: Gluten-free, low carb, paleo….the list goes on. Fad diets are often difficult to maintain and can restrict essential nutrients your body needs to maintain good health. Fad diets can also be extremely expensive. MyPlate recommends starting with small changes such as making half your plate fruits and vegetables, watching portion sizes and increasing physical activity as a healthy way to regulate body weight.

Keep frozen veggies on hand: If you’re pressed for time and need to make a fast meal, having frozen veggies that are pre-chopped are a great option. They can save you time and effort spent on washing and cutting and will increase your vegetable intake. They can also help minimize food wastage since frozen veggies won’t spoil like fresh produce.

Drain away salt: Canned foods are often packed with sodium, whether they’re veggies, beans, or soups. Draining and washing your canned veggies can greatly cut back on your sodium intake. As for canned soups, try draining some of the broth and replacing it with water and sodium-free spices and herbs such as garlic powder or oregano. Also, keep an eye out for canned goods with "no salt added" on the label.

Don’t start your day with sugar: Cereals are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to sugar sneaking into your daily diet. Certain cereals may promote themselves as a “healthier” option, but can pack in 20 grams of sugar or more per serving. Look at the Nutrition Facts label and aim for a cereal with less than 6 grams of added sugar per serving.

Swap that soda: Switching to water or low-fat milk can not only save you some empty calories, but can also save you money and lower your risk for chronic diseases. Try drinking water instead of soda once a day, then twice a day, and so on. And remember, while 100% fruit juice does have more nutrients and is a better choice than soda, it still contains a lot of sugar.

Snack exchange: Try replacing that bag of potato chips with a sliced apple and a handful of nuts. Making a change like this even once a day can cut some of those empty calories and replace them with more nutrient dense choices.

Roast them: Try baking meats and veggies on parchment paper with a little bit of olive oil or vegetable oil instead of frying them. Doing this will cut excess fat out of your diet and still produce that browning quality in your foods.

Cut back on red meat: For one meal a day, switch from red meat to poultry, fish, or a plant protein like tofu or beans. Cutting down your saturated fat and cholesterol intake from red meat can lead to a healthier heart and a healthier lifestyle.

Stay hydrated: Sometimes when we feel hungry, it can actually be our bodies telling us that we need water. Drinking a glass of water before meals will also help you feel fuller and make you less tempted to grab that second helping.

Balance is best: Many diet plans will try to tell you to cut out all sweets and junk foods, and if you slip up and treat yourself, then you’ve failed. It’s ok to indulge yourself from time to time, just remember to limit those foods so that it doesn’t become a habit. A few sweets or fats here and there are fine, but try to make most of your diet healthier foods. Your body will thank you for it.

For more information on a balanced diet, visit MyPlate, or if you want a way to keep track of your foods, visit SuperTracker

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