Anyone who has made habit changes before can tell you this: the first step always seems the hardest. And this certainly holds true when it comes to making changes for a healthy lifestyle. If you feel like that’s you –having not a single clue on how to actually start improving your diet– there’s no need for panic! The key is simple — start small. Taking baby steps will make the transition to a healthy lifestyle much smoother and you will find it a lot easier to stick to these new healthy habits.
As your first steps, I suggest starting with one (or a few) of these simple food swaps. Though these substitutions may seem small and insignificant at the beginning, they can actually go a long way to improving your diet.
Switch out full-fat cheese, replace with sharp or lower-fat cheese.
Sharp cheese is more intense-flavoured so you will need less to spike up flavours. Or, you can choose lower-fat cheese to substantially cut down the fat content. Just one note of caution: stay away from fat-free cheese, it tends to be rubbery in texture and lacks flavour.
Less butter, more NUT butter.
Next time you reach for the butter to spread on toast, try nut butter instead. Nut butters offer a delicate nutty, sweet flavour and give a boost in protein and heart-healthy fats. Be adventurous and try different nut butters available on the market — peanut butter, almond butter, walnut butter, hazelnut butter…the list goes on and on.
Buy brown rice instead of white rice.
Brown rice is a wonderful whole grain option while white rice is refined carbs. Brown rice has a chewier texture and nutty taste that can add an extra depth of flavour to your recipes, not to mention that it also provides an excellent nutritional punch in fiber and other vitamins. I’ve dedicated an entire post to preaching the goodness of brown rice before, so if you still haven’t tried this nourishing and delicious whole grain yet, now’s the time!
Switch to whole grain whole wheat bread, buy less white bread.
White bread, made with highly processed refined white flour, is virtually stripped of any nutrients. Whole grain whole wheat breads have much more flavour and a chewier texture (makes bread eating a whole lot more interesting!) One sneaky trick to introduce whole wheat bread into your diet is to make breadcrumbs with it. When a recipe call for breadcrumbs, simply use these homemade whole wheat breadcrumbs. I promise you won’t notice the between these from the regular store-bought varieties made with white bread.
Choose yogurt over milk.
When choosing between having milk or yogurt, know that they have a similar nutritional profile, but yogurt comes with an additional nutritional benefit of having probiotics. Probiotics may play an important role in maintaining and boosting digestive health, which will ultimately affect your well-being. Choose low-fat plain yogurt, swirl in frozen fruits and chopped nuts with a drizzle of honey to create a well-balanced, energy-boosting quick breakfast or a power snack.
The bottom line: improve your diet by making small changes one at a time. Don’t rush it!
Every little step counts, so simply start with one of these suggestions and adopt more as you see fit. Take it slow, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to embracing a healthy and tasty lifestyle!