When it comes to getting in shape, it's the little things that can really add up to make a huge difference. Instead of following a restrictive diet to drop pounds, research shows that making small, consistent changes results in a healthier diet and long term weight loss. The key to success is to ensure that the changes are practical and sustainable so that they are easy to incorporate into your everyday life. Need some help? Here are seven small steps to changing unhealthy eating habits:
1. Always eat breakfast
It's true what they say -- breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research demonstrates that people who eat breakfast every single day tend to be a healthier weight than those who skip breakfast. This is because eating breakfast helps to boost your metabolism throughout the day. You're also less likely to binge later on in the day.
2. Use smaller plates
Studies suggest that people eat less when they use smaller plates. Why? Because smaller dinnerware gives the illusion that you're eating more since your plate is full, making the food portions appear larger than they actually are. Try eating food on salad plates to cut calories easily.
3. Put out a fruit bowl
Fresh produce contains a lot of nutrients and fiber. To encourage yourself to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, bring them front and center in your fridge and on your kitchen counter. Keep apples, bananas, and oranges in a fruit bowl where you can see it, so you're more likely to reach for them as a healthy snack.
4. Manage stress levels
Rather than eating your stress away, focus on reducing it using meditation, exercise, and deep breathing. This will ensure that you don't fall back into bad habits during periods of high stress.
5. Snack on yogurt
Greek yogurt has been identified as a top weight loss promoting food. It's high in protein and is loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as calcium. The probiotics contained in yogurt may also help you burn fat. Make sure only to eat plain Greek yogurt that has live and active cultures.
6. Become more mindful
One of the first steps to changing unhealthy eating habits is becoming more mindful. That means reading food labels, becoming familiar with lists of ingredients, and noticing everything you're putting into your mouth. Once you become more aware of your eating habits, you'll be able to recognize the changes you need to make.
7. Set mini-goals each week
If your goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables, you can set a mini-goal for each week of trying one new fruit or vegetable. Or you can look for easy ways to add more vegetables and fruit to your diet every week.
Remember to be realistic
When it comes to making changes, it's crucial that you set realistic expectations. Don't expect too much from yourself too soon. Experts agree that it takes around a month before any new actions become habits.
- "6 Steps to Changing Bad Eating Habits," WebMD, n.d.
- "7 Small Changes with Big Results," Eating Well, n.d.