It can be difficult to change your eating habits and sometimes feel like an impossible thing to do. Many people find that it helps if you focus on small changes. Making changes to your diet may also be beneficial if you have diseases that can be made worse by things you are eating or drinking or are not eating and drinking. Symptoms from conditions such as kidney disease, lactose intolerance, and celiac disease can all benefit from changes in diet. Below are some quick suggestions for you to try to improve your health.
- Find any strong and weak points in your current diet. Do you eat 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day? Do you eat fish, nuts, legumes? Do you get enough calcium? Do you eat whole grain, high-fiber foods? If so, you’re on the right track! Keep it up. If not, add more of these foods to your daily diet.
- Keep track of your food intake by writing down what you eat and drink every day. There are several apps such as My Fitness Pal that make it easy to keep your journal right on your phone. This record will help you assess your diet. You’ll see if you need to eat more or less from certain food groups – just remember to be HONEST with yourself when tracking what you have eaten.
Almost everyone can benefit from cutting back on unhealthy fats. If you currently eat a lot of unhealthy fats, commit to cutting back and changing your habits. Unhealthy fats include things such as: dark chicken meat; poultry skin; fatty cuts of pork, beef, and lamb; and high-fat dairy foods (whole milk, butter, cheeses). Ways to cut back on unhealthy fats include:
- Rather than frying meat, bake, grill, or broil it. Take off the skin before cooking chicken or turkey. Try eating fish at least once a week.
- Reduce any extra fat. This includes butter on bread, sour cream on baked potatoes, and salad dressings. Use low-fat or nonfat versions of these foods.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables with your meals and as snacks.
- Read the nutrition labels on foods before you buy them. If you need help with the labels, ask your doctor or dietitian.
- When you eat out, be aware of hidden fats and larger portion sizes.
- Staying hydrated is important for good health. Drink zero- or low-calorie beverages, such as water or tea. Sweetened drinks add lots of sugar and calories to your diet. This includes fruit juice, soda, sports and energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk, and sweetened iced tea.
Balanced nutrition and regular exercise are good for your health. These habits can help you lose or maintain weight. Try to set realistic goals so you don’t become frustrated with yourself and throw in the towel.
Make healthy eating habits a part of daily life rather than following fad diets. Nutrition tips and diets from different sources can be misleading.