Changing Your Diet One Small Step at a Time

Most of us recognize the important role that our eating habits play in our overall health and wellness. In fact, research suggests that 72% of Americans believe that healthy eating habits are very important for improving our chances of living a long, healthy life. However, that same research shows that 58% of Americans also know they should probably be eating healthier most days, which goes to show that making significant changes to our eating habits can be challenging. It can be overwhelming to think about overhauling our diets and it’s often difficult to stick to a new routine for more than a few days. 

Not all is lost though. If you are looking to include more health-giving foods in your diet, there are a few simple tips you can use that will help you without requiring that you immediately make drastic changes. Let us explain. 

The Importance of Small Steps

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that it’s easier and more effective to make small changes in any area of your life, including your diet, than it is to dream big and immediately jump in feet first. 

When it comes to setting goals for ourselves, it’s easy to dream big and picture how wonderful our life will be when we achieve that goal. And while dreaming big isn’t necessarily a bad thing, these lofty goals can make it tempting to immediately jump into action and make multiple big changes to our current lifestyle simultaneously. However, the fact of the matter is that these big changes can be detrimental to our success. 

Researchers who have studied the topic have found that starting with small, easy-to-achieve steps makes it easier to form and stick to new habits, which makes sense when you take a minute to think about it. While we may feel extremely motivated the day we commit to a goal, that motivation doesn’t stay the same from day to day. In fact, for the majority of us, motivation continuously goes up and down. When we acknowledge and accept that fact, it’s easier to see how taking smaller steps helps us overcome this obstacle. 

When we decide to take small steps toward our goal instead of trying to do it in leaps and bounds, we don’t have to rely as much on feeling motivated. Rather, we can implement a small change to our daily routine that will act as a foundation for us to further build upon in the future. What’s more? These small steps that are easy to achieve will also help you build confidence, helping you truly believe that it’s possible for you to achieve your goal, which is always beneficial in the long run.  

7 Small Steps to a Healthier Diet

Now that you understand why it’s important to start small, here are some easy, small steps you can start taking today to help you transform your diet in the long run. 

1. Start With Simple Swaps

One great area to start is what you cook and how you cook it and finding one unhealthy item or habit that you can swap for a healthier one. For example, one simple change you can make is to roast or bake foods instead of frying them, which will automatically help you use fewer oils and unhealthy fats while cooking your meals. Something else you can try is picking one specific food item and swapping it with a healthier version. Maybe you start buying whole wheat bread instead of white bread, choosing Greek yogurt over regular yogurt, or using brown rice instead of white rice. These swaps may seem small and meaningless, but over time they can add up to make a big difference. 

2. Focus on One Meal at a Time

Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming to think about making a change to your whole diet, no matter how small that change is. If that’s the case for you, then focusing on only one meal at a time may be the way to go. For example, you can decide to only make changes to your breakfasts for now and then choose one small change within that category to start with. You decide to simply add one serving of fruit to your breakfast every day, or you can choose to stop eating fried foods like bacon and opt for healthier protein options like hard-boiled eggs or avocado toast instead. You can follow a similar process for lunch or dinner. The key is to only make changes to one meal at a time, and as the weeks go by you will start to notice that your diet is slowly becoming healthier.  

3. Add a Single Serving of Fruits or Vegetables

We all know that we should be eating our fruits and vegetables because they contain most of the nutrients our bodies need. If you find yourself struggling to get enough of these two food groups each day, then your first small step may be to add one extra serving of one of them to your day. This can look like adding some fruit to your breakfast, a side of vegetables to your dinner, or even choosing to make and enjoy a homemade fruit smoothie at lunchtime every day. No matter what your diet currently looks like, there is sure to be a way you can squeeze in something as small as a single extra serving of these nutritious whole foods.    

4. Spice It Up With Seasoning

Let’s admit it—many people hate clean eating because plain vegetables can taste bland. If you are one of those people, a simple and effective way to combat this is to experiment with seasonings. Spices and herbs are a great way to add flavor to your healthy dishes without adding calories, sugar, or salt. As a bonus, many spices and herbs are known to be beneficial to different aspects of health as well. For example, ginger, garlic, and oregano are all known for their antioxidant benefits. So it’s a big win that requires a small amount of effort!

5. Replace Carbonated Drinks with Water

Fizzy drinks like soda are a weakness for many of us. No matter how healthy the meal is, your efforts will be watered down when you chase it with a soda or other kind of sugar-filled carbonated drink. Start drinking water instead to stay hydrated, improve your skin, and regulate your digestive tract. If you do not like the taste of plain water, add fruit slices or cucumber slices. Another simple way to make sure you are drinking more water and fewer sugar-filled beverages is to carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. This will not only serve as a reminder to drink water but will also ensure you have a beverage so you can’t use that as an excuse to buy a fountain drink while you’re out. 

6. Switch Up Your Snacks

No matter how many healthy dishes you eat, you can slide back into unhealthy eating with the snacks you eat. If you know that snacking is a weakness of yours, try to start switching it up. Instead of eating potato chips, try popcorn. Instead of a candy bar, reach for a handful of berries or nuts. Making the decision to stop buying processed snacks and keeping healthier options on hand will go a long way in helping you change your snacking habits. 

7. Stick to Your Shopping List

One way to gradually change your eating habits is to pay close attention to your shopping list. If you aren’t already making a list before you head to the grocery store, start there. If you regularly use a shopping list, pay closer attention to what you put on it. Only put items that align with your diet goals, and then when you head to the store, stick to that list. The small act of using a list when grocery shopping will ultimately have a big impact on not only your meals but also your budget. 

Live the #NewEarthLife

Take a step toward living the #NewEarthLife today by choosing just one of these simple tips to implement into your daily life. Before you know it, your diet will improve and you will be a happier, healthier version of yourself. 

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