If you’re looking to make changes to your diet this year but aren’t quite sure where to start, let me help you out! Lucky for you, just tweaking your diet even a little bit can make a huge difference in your overall dieting efforts. Use some of these simple strategies to make changes to your diet, and in no time, you’ll see big results with minimal effort.
1. Clean up Your Protein
To make changes to your diet this year, I think it’s important to start with macronutrients. Macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and fats make up the largest part of our caloric intake. So, when looking for ways to enhance our diet, I think macronutrients are a good starting place. Let’s start with protein. It can be easy to consume protein from less than stellar options such as protein bars, shakes, powders, etc. To make changes to your diet to see better results, just clean up your protein. Choose whole food sources of protein instead of processed ingredients. This can reduce hunger longer, as well as be better for your body.
2. Add More Vegetables
You can never consume too many vegetables. They are simply the backbone of any healthy diet and will fill in the gaps of poor nutritional choices. Add in more vegetables to your current diet this year and experiment with new ways to eat your current favorites too. Try new recipes, create new combinations, and even try exotic, unknown vegetables that might be new to you at first.
3. Drink More Water
I know water is boring and you hear so much about how you need to drink more of it, but it’s true. To make a simple change to your diet that can decrease your hunger, reduce fatigue, and ward off cravings, just drink more water. Drinking more water is a great way to stave off hunger, as well as keep you hydrated. This keeps you regular, keeps your electrolytes stable, and helps clear wastes from the kidneys more efficiently.
4. Add Whole Food Healthy Fats
Instead of reducing your caloric intake, think about adding more whole food sources of healthy fats to your diet. The great thing about whole food sources of healthy fats instead of oils as your fat sources, is it’s hard to consume too many before you become full. Fats like raw nuts and seeds, avocado, coconut, and dark chocolate are all great options. Eat more of these and reduce or eliminate your oil consumption. Certain oils are healthy for you, but they are not whole foods and won't fill you up as quickly, or satisfy you as long. Besides, for 14 grams of fat, you can either eat a quarter cup of almonds or eat ¼ avocado, or you can consume 1 tbsp. oil. Now, you tell me, which do you think would satisfy you more? Besides, whole food sources of fats have added vitamins and minerals, and fiber to help keep you fuller even longer. They also just taste better if you ask me.
5. Say No to Sneaky Sugar
We all know sugar is bad for us, but what about those sneaky sources of sugar we don’t think about? The added sugar in tomato sauce and other condiments, or the added sugar in that delicious vanilla flavored yogurt? Or, what about the “healthy sweeteners” we justify, like honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup? I have news for you, no matter how natural sugar is, it’s all plain sugar to your body. This trains your body to crave sugar more, reduces insulin sensitivity, and it hinders weight loss. Get rid of all added sugars in your diet, no matter what form they come in. Making this one change can make you healthier, slimmer, and reduce your cravings for sweets.
6. Eat More Sweet Vegetables
Now, I know you won’t be able to give up sweets and not have something to satisfy you. If you don’t consume something healthy to satisfy your sweet tooth, you’ll just find yourself binging at night on the cookies or raw fruit and nut bars. Been there, done that! You can’t go all or nothing when it comes to eliminating your cravings in the beginning. One of the best ways to satisfy your sweet tooth is to eat more sweet vegetables. I’m serious! Eat more carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. All of these are low calorie, yet most people avoid them because they’re high in carbs. This baffles me due to the fact that people are afraid of vegetables, yet consume added sugars elsewhere. A sweet potato or bag of carrots is not going to make you fat, but it will satisfy your sweet tooth, and add fiber to your diet. Vegetables are higher in water than anything and come with so many nutrients that stave off hunger for hours. Your body knows when it is receiving nutrients and when it’s not. When it gets enough quality nutrients from vegetables, your hunger levels naturally diminish. Try having roasted sweet vegetables with some cinnamon sprinkled on them, and I guarantee you’ll feel like you’re getting a treat!
7. Avoid Gluten
Even if you aren’t sensitive or allergic to gluten, reducing or eliminating it can do wonders for your diet. Gluten containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye will change the way your body processes carbs, and can train your body to crave more carbohydrates overall. Consuming less gluten grains can also help eliminate digestive issues many people have, as well as enhance the effects of a clean diet. Gluten isn’t the only enemy when it comes to foods, but I do believe it’s one worth avoiding for optimal health. Choose wild rice, gluten-free oats, quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, and millet for the best gluten-free options. Do stay away from refined gluten-free options with little fiber that aren’t made of whole grains. They aren’t any better than any other refined foods, regardless that they are gluten-free.
These simple changes to make to your diet can make you feel better, and also enhance your dieting efforts. Do you have a simple strategy you would add to this list?