A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been scientifically proven to provide numerous health benefits, such as reducing your risk of several chronic diseases and keeping your body healthy.
However, making major changes to your diet can sometimes seem very overwhelming.
Instead of making big changes, it may be better to start with a few smaller ones. And it’s likely more manageable to start with just one thing, rather than all of them at once.
This article discusses 25 small changes that can make a regular diet a little bit healthier. Just remember you don’t need to try to do them all at once. Instead, you may want to add these changes into your life over time.
The pace at which you eat influences how much you eat, as well as how likely you are to gain weight.
Your appetite, how much you eat, and how full you get are all controlled by hormones. Hormones signal to your brain whether you’re hungry or full.
However, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive these messages. That’s why eating more slowly may give your brain the time it needs to perceive that you’re full.
So, simply eating slower and chewing more often may help you eat less.
You can easily make your diet a bit healthier by choosing whole grain bread in place of traditional refined grain bread.
Refined grains have been associated with many health issues. Whole grains, on the other hand, have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (
They’re also a good source of:
- B vitamins
- minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
There are many varieties of whole grain bread available, and many of them even taste better than refined bread.
Just make sure to read the label to ensure that your bread is made with whole grains only, not a mixture of whole and refined grains. It’s also preferable that the bread contains whole seeds or grains.
Greek yogurt (or Greek-style yogurt) is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt.
It has been strained to remove its excess whey, which is the watery part of milk. This results in a final product that’s higher in fat and protein than regular yogurt.
Eating a good source of protein can help you feel fuller for longer, which can help manage your appetite and reduce your food intake, if that’s your goal (
Plus, since Greek yogurt has been strained, it contains fewer carbs and less lactose than regular yogurt. This makes it suitable for people who follow a low carb diet or are lactose intolerant.
Simply replace some snacks or regular yogurt varieties with Greek yogurt for a hearty dose of protein and nutrients.
Just make sure to pick the plain, unflavored varieties. Flavored yogurts may be packed with added sugar and other less nutritious ingredients.
There are two important strategies to employ when you go grocery shopping: Make your shopping list ahead of time and don’t go to the store hungry.
Not knowing exactly what you need makes room for impulse buying, while hunger can cause you to toss even more low nutrient foods into your shopping cart.
That’s why the best strategy is to plan ahead and write down what you need beforehand. By doing this and sticking to your list, you’ll not only buy healthier items to keep around the house, but you’ll also save money.
Eggs are incredibly healthy, especially if you eat them in the morning.
They are rich in high quality protein and many essential nutrients that people often don’t get enough of, such as choline (
When looking at studies comparing various types of calorie-matched breakfasts, eggs come out on top.
Eating eggs in the morning increases feelings of fullness. This has been shown to cause people to consume fewer calories at later meals. It can be quite helpful for weight loss, if that’s your goal (
For example, one study in 50 people found that eating an egg-based breakfast reduced feelings of hunger and decreased the amount of calories consumed later in the day than a breakfast of cereal (
So, simply replacing your current breakfast with eggs may result in major benefits for your health.
Protein is often referred to as the king of nutrients, and it does seem to have some superpowers.
Due to its ability to affect your hunger and satiety hormones, it’s often considered the most filling of the macronutrients (
One study showed that eating a high-protein meal decreased levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, more than a high-carb meal in people with obesity (
What’s more, protein helps you retain muscle mass and may also slightly increase the number of calories you burn per day (
If you’re trying to lose weight, aim to add a source of protein to each meal and snack. It will help you feel fuller for longer, curb cravings, and make you less likely to overeat.
Good sources of protein include:
- dairy products
- peanut butter
- lean meat
Drinking enough water is important for your health.
The way you prepare your food can drastically change its effects on your health.
Grilling, broiling, frying, and deep-frying are all popular methods of preparing meat and fish.
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- advanced glycation end products
- heterocyclic amines
Healthier cooking methods include:
- pressure cooking
- slow cooking
Although you can still enjoy the occasional grilled or deep-fried dish, it’s best to use those methods sparingly.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s very important for bone health and the proper functioning of your immune system. In fact, every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D, indicating its importance (
Vitamin D is found in very few foods, but fatty seafood generally contains the highest amounts.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another commonly lacking nutrient that’s found in fatty seafood. These have many important roles in the body, including reducing inflammation, maintaining heart health, and promoting proper brain function (
The Western diet is generally very high in omega-6 fatty acids, which increase inflammation and have been linked to many chronic diseases (
If you don’t eat fatty seafood regularly, you should consider taking a supplement. Omega-3s and vitamin D can often be found together in many supplements.
Eating out doesn’t have to involve unhealthy foods.
Consider upgrading your favorite fast food restaurant to one with healthier options.
There are many healthy fast food restaurants and fusion kitchens offering healthy and delicious meals.
They may just be a great replacement for your favorite burger or pizza joint. What’s more, you can generally get these meals at a very decent price.
Deciding what to have for dinner can be a constant cause of frustration, which is why many people tend to use the same recipes again and again. Chances are you’ve been cooking the same recipes on autopilot for years.
Whether these are healthy or unhealthy recipes, trying something new can be a fun way to add more diversity to your diet.
Aim to try making a new healthy recipe at least once per week. This can change up your food and nutrient intakes and hopefully add some new and nutritious recipes to your routine.
Alternatively, try to make a healthier version of a favorite recipe by experimenting with new ingredients, herbs, and spices.
Replacing your french fries with baked or boiled potatoes is a great way to shave off calories and avoid these unhealthy compounds.
A good way to ensure that you eat your greens is to enjoy them as a starter.
By doing so, you’ll most likely finish all of your greens while you’re at your hungriest. This may cause you to eat less of other, perhaps less healthy, components of the meal later.
It may lead you to eat fewer and healthier calories overall, which could result in weight loss.
Plus, eating vegetables before a carb-rich meal has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels.
Fruits are loaded with water, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Because fruits contain fiber and various plant compounds, their natural sugars are generally digested very slowly and don’t cause major spikes in blood sugar levels.
However, the same doesn’t apply to fruit juices.
Even real fruit juices lack the fiber and chewing resistance provided by whole fruits. This makes fruit juice much more likely to spike your blood sugar levels, leading you to consume too much in a single sitting.
Try to make a habit of cooking at home most nights rather than eating out.
For one, it’s easier on your budget.
Second, by cooking your food yourself, you’ll know exactly what is in it. You won’t have to wonder about any hidden unhealthy or high calorie ingredients.
Also, by cooking large servings, you’ll also have leftovers for the next day, ensuring a healthy meal then, too.
- lose weight
- increase your energy levels
- reduce your risk of chronic diseases
- improve your sleep
Aim to do about 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise each day, or simply take the stairs and go on short walks whenever possible.
Sugary beverages might possibly be the unhealthiest thing you can drink.
They’re loaded with added sugar, which has been linked to numerous diseases, including (
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
Plus, the added sugar found in these drinks doesn’t impact appetite the same way as regular food does. This means you don’t compensate for the calories you drink by eating any less (
Try replacing your sugary beverage with either a sugar-free alternative or simply choose still or sparkling water instead. Doing so will shave off the non-beneficial calories and reduce your intake of excess sugar.
So-called diet foods can be very deceiving. They have usually had their fat content reduced dramatically and are often labeled “fat-free,” “low fat,” “fat-reduced,” or “low calorie.”
However, to compensate for the lost flavor and texture from fat, sugar and other ingredients are often added.
So, many diet foods end up containing more sugar and sometimes even more calories than their full fat counterparts (
Instead, opt for whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
The importance of good sleep can’t be overstated.
Sleep deprivation disrupts appetite regulation, often leading to increased appetite. This results in increased calorie intake and weight gain (
That’s why it’s important to try to get adequate amounts of good-quality sleep, preferably in one bout.
Berries are very healthy and packed with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Most varieties can be purchased fresh, frozen, or dried.
Although all types are relatively healthy, the dried varieties are a much more concentrated source of calories and sugar, since all the water has been removed.
The dried varieties are also often covered with sugar, further increasing the sugar content.
By opting for the fresh varieties, you will get a much juicier snack that’s lower in sugar and contains fewer calories.
It may be surprising that popcorn is a whole grain that’s loaded with nutrients and fiber.
For a healthy snack, try making your own popcorn at home (not microwave popcorn varieties) or purchase air-popped popcorn.
Many commercial varieties prepare their popcorn with fat, sugar, and salt, making it no healthier than potato chips.
Highly processed seed and vegetable oils have become a household staple over the past few decades.
Examples include soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, and canola oils.
These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids but low in heart-healthy omega-3s.
Some research suggests a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio can lead to inflammation and has been linked to chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and autoimmune disorders (
Swap these oils for healthier alternatives, such as:
It has been proven that the size of your dinnerware can affect how much you eat.
According to one study, eating from a smaller plate was associated with increased feelings of satiety and reduced energy intake among participants with a healthy body weight (
Also, if you don’t realize that you’re eating more than usual, you won’t compensate by eating less at the next meal (
Simply getting to the point of being able to order a salad at a restaurant is a great achievement for many.
However, not all salads are equally healthy. In fact, some salads are smothered in high calorie dressings, which may make the salads even higher in calories than other items on the menu.
Asking for the dressing on the side makes it a lot easier to control the portion size and amount of calories that you consume.
Coffee, which is one of the most popular beverages in the world, is very healthy.
However, many commercial varieties of coffee contain lots of additional ingredients, such as sugar, syrup, heavy cream, and sweeteners.
Drinking these varieties quickly negates all of coffee’s health benefits and instead adds lots of extra sugar and calories.
Instead, try drinking your coffee black or just adding a small amount of milk or cream instead of sugar.
Completely overhauling your diet all at once can be a recipe for disaster.
Instead, try to incorporate some of the small changes listed above to make your diet healthier.
Some of these tips will help you keep your portion sizes reasonable, while others will help you add nutrients or adapt to something new.
Together, they’ll have a big impact on making your overall diet healthier and more sustainable, without a huge change in your habits.