“If I’d known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” – Leon Eldred
Are you a past or present junk food addict? Burgers, fries, sodas, pizza, lollies and chocolate might taste good, but they are hardly a healthy option. And they can make your waistline balloon.
So, how do you move towards a healthier diet?
Well, it is not an easy Point A to Point B journey. It is more a Point A to Point Z with lots of stops in between. But that is actually the secret to healthy improvement – learning along the way and taking small steps towards your goal.
The whole idea is not to deprive yourself, but to embrace foods that are a little bit healthier. You don’t have to go from pizza to wholegrain oats in one step. Baby steps are the key.
The Problem With Most Diet Plans
New fad diets in books and magazines, and on the Internet are a dime a dozen. Some of them are actually pretty decent, but almost all of them have one single flaw that will make it very difficult for anyone to stick to them.
The flaw? They try to get you to change your entire diet at once.
That just doesn’t work for most people. Often you will start out extremely enthusiastic and determined. But such a drastic change in diet is hard to sustain, and soon you give in to temptation and then it falls apart.
The Power of Small Changes
Small changes can be very powerful. You can easily make changes to your diet one small step at a time. Baby steps. The miracle of this is that you will adjust to these small changes after a couple weeks. Suddenly, they seem normal and like you aren’t depriving yourself of anything.
Take meat for example. Let’s say you wanted to become a vegetarian, and you cut out all meat from your diet completely. You would feel very deprived, and you might have a very hard time. Most people wouldn’t last very long — maybe a week or two at most — before caving in, eating meat and feeling guilty.
But let’s say instead that you just started with beef. Well, at dinner tonight, you probably wouldn’t notice much because you could have chicken or fish or turkey or pork — all the stuff you might normally eat. After a few weeks, going without beef would seem normal, and you probably wouldn’t miss it much.
Repeat that process for pork, and soon you will have cut common red meat from your diet. Then do chicken — this might be a difficult stage for many — and just eat seafood for a while. After a few weeks of that, though, you would be used to it. The final step is dropping seafood, and soon you are a vegetarian who doesn’t miss meat one bit.
You don’t need to become a vegetarian to eat healthily. The example simply is that small steps, taken a few weeks at a time, make changing your eating habits easier.
12 Steps To Healthier Eating
Actually, what follows is just an example. You can use as many steps as you want, making whatever changes you want. This is just a sample of what can be done, to give you some ideas.
Apply these changes, one at a time, until you get used to them. This will probably be 3-4 weeks per step. But in a year’s time, you will be eating as healthy as possible.
Focus as much energy as possible on each change for at least a couple weeks. Don’t deviate if you can. Don’t worry, you will get used to it.
If it seems too difficult, make a smaller step instead. For example, instead of cutting out sweets, just cut out cakes and donuts. Smaller steps make things much easier.
Always replace bad food with healthy food that you enjoy.
OK, so here’s an example of how this step-by-step process could work:
Eat fruits for snacks. If you snack on junk food during the day, have some fruits by your side at all times. When you are feeling hungry for a snack, eat a fruit. One of those bags of small apples is a handy thing — you can’t go wrong with apples.
Drink water instead of soda. Try to cut out sugary drinks a bit at a time, replacing them with water.
Eat whole grain bread. If you eat white bread, replace it with a whole-grain version. Be sure to look at the ingredients — it shouldn’t say enriched wheat flour, but whole grain.
Add fresh veggies to dinner. If you don’t already, have some steamed greens with dinner. Cut out a less healthy side dish if you usually eat something else.
Cut out red meat. You can still eat poultry and seafood for now. You can later cut those out too if you want.
Make pizza instead of ordering. Homemade pizza is the best, and if you haven’t made it yet, you should. The simple way is to get a ready-made whole-wheat crust, although making your own tastes even better. Start with the simple version, like pizza sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, olives, and a bit of low-fat grated cheese. Yum!
Nuts instead of chips. If you normally snack on chips, try unsalted peanuts or raw almonds.
Try lower fat milk. Whole milk is fatty. Try trim milk instead, or soy milk. Both are much healthier options.
Whole grain cereal. If you eat sugary cereal, try a whole-grain cereal instead.
Berries instead of candy. Try eating berries to satisfy your sweet cravings! Dried fruit is good too.
Scrambled instead of fried eggs. This simple change in the way you cook your eggs can make a world of difference. Try an egg white omelette if you are feeling adventurous!
Try some great veggie dinners. Simply cutting out the meat one or two nights a week can really help you to be healthier. Vegetarian meals can be just as delicious as ones that contain meat.
These 12 changes are just a suggestion. If you find other ways to improve your eating habits, then use them by all means. Implement 12 changes first and you will probably be eating healthier than you ever have before.
Don’t stop there though, go for 20 changes next!