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Small Changes, Big Results in the New Year

For a lot of folks, the new year is often about making resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more. The problem is, getting overly ambitious at the start of January often results in our healthy resolution being broken by month’s end. Instead of making all-or-nothing resolutions to eat healthier, try out one of the following small changes. You may find greater success in healthy eating by incorporating a small, easy change that you can repeat almost every day.

Small Change #1: Drink More Water

Drinking just one more glass of water each day is one the easiest small changes you can make. The health benefits of drinking enough water are considerable. From keeping your skin healthy to promoting good digestion, water does it all. An easy way to make this change is to always keep a reminder around. Try keeping a glass of water on your desk at work or bringing a reusable bottle with you when you leave the house.

Small Change #2: Go Meatless Sometimes

In general, we could all benefit from eating more plants. Plant proteins like beans and lentils have fiber, which animal proteins lack. Certain plant proteins like soy and quinoa also contain all of the essential amino acids, which are the protein building blocks that your body needs to get from food. Since plant proteins are often cheaper than animal proteins, going meatless sometimes can also be less of a hit on your wallet. Consider having one or two more meatless, plant-based dinners per week.

Some plant-based dinner suggestions:

Small Change #3: Add More Veggies

Does your plate include veggies? If not, make half your plate veggies for at least one meal a day. If one of your goals in the new year is to shed some pounds, eating more veggies will help fill you up faster and keep you full between meals. For bonus points, eat a wide variety of colorful veggies. Each color denotes a different kind of antioxidant or phytonutrient.

Check out these veggie-packed recipes:

Small Change #4: Drink Less Sugar

Cutting out sugary drinks is a change that can lead to huge results. Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda can quickly add lots of empty calories to your diet. The average 12 ounce can of soda has around 10 teaspoons of sugar. Skipping just one soda per week can save you 78 teaspoons of added sugar over two months. Not to mention, many sodas contain processed ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.

If you’re looking for a substitute for sugary drinks, try infusing water or unsweetened iced tea with fresh fruits and herbs. And next time, opt for the healthy beverage instead of the soda.

Small Change #5: Swap in a Whole Grain

All carbs are not created equal. Carbohydrate sources like whole grains contain more nutrients than their refined counterparts. The key difference is that whole grains have fiber, while many refined grains do not. Making simple swaps like whole grain pasta or bread instead of the white variety will give you more bang for your nutrition buck. Aim to make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains.

Give these whole-grain dishes a go:

 

Bobby has a degree in nutrition and dietetics and previously worked as a health educator.

 This blog post was originally published on December 29, 2014. It was last updated on December 31, 2016.
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