"Eating healthier" might have been one of your goals for 2018. If it was, have you stuck to it? Sometimes making a sudden change to your diet is too much, and you often bite of way more than you can chew.
Many people get overwhelmed when they try to completely overhaul their eating. It’s too drastic, which leads to frustration, and eventually your resolution is out the window.
The best way to go is not to set the bar too high to begin. Start slow, build up some momentum making better choices, and then try to improve those choices over time. Don't just pile your plate full of vegetables you don't enjoy.
To show you exactly what this looks like in the real world, I’ve put together a list of five nutritional progressions that you can make slowly, over time, so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.
Bready to Make A Change
A bagel with cream cheese sure hits the spot, but most people don’t need all those calories when they’re going to be sitting at a desk most of the day, and if you're trying to cut back on calories then this can set you back a bit for the rest of the day. Bagels are pretty dense, and high in carbs, so if it's calories you're watching out for then there are other options. Instead, start out your day by toasting some whole-wheat bread and adding a little peanut butter. You’ll still get your bread fix, only now you’ve added some healthy fats and cut back on calories - just watch out for the amount of peanut butter you add! If you’re feeling in the mood, swap out your regular peanut butter for a natural option.
When it comes to crisps, it's tough keeping the portions small. Grab a bag to snack on and pretty soon you’re at the bottom. A great swap when you’re just starting to eat healthier is baked or 'popped' crisps. You’ll consume fewer calories for a higher volume of food, which is a nice trade-off. Alternatively, swap them out for a healthy crunch like nuts. Almonds, cashews or pistachios are all good choices. These nuts are loaded with nutrients and contain protein as well as heart-healthy fats.
Spoon Friendly Snacks
If ice cream is one of your guilty pleasures and you find yourself grabbing the Ben & Jerry's a few too many times, start by substituting it with these new lower calorie ice-creams. Just make sure you don't eat the whole tub... The next step might be eating yoghurt! You can even freeze it, for a more similar texture. You’ll end up consuming fewer calories, less fat, and adding some extra protein. Over time you can work your way up to eating Greek yogurt (which will pack even more of a protein punch) mixed with some fresh fruit, honey and/or seeds.
Pasta La Vista, Baby
A big plate of pasta is a carb-lover’s dream, but when you want to make a healthier choice, start by swapping out your regular pasta for a whole grain option. You'll feel a lot more full, meaning you don't need such monstrous portion sizes. Once you’ve made the initial change (it wasn’t that bad), now you can start experimenting with butternut squash or courgette noodles to try and sneak in some vegetables. Cauliflower and broccoli rice is also popular at the moment, so it's a case of trying them out and seeing if you enjoy them. If you do, they can save you a LOT of calories. Also, instead of beef mince in your pasta sauce, you might want to try turkey breast mince as it's higher in protein and lower in fat!
Freshen Up Your Salad
Many people try to make a healthier choice by going with salad, but alas, the iceberg lettuce is covered fatty, sugary dressings. Start by swapping out your lettuce with spinach to ensure you’re getting more vitamins and minerals. Next, trade those croutons for some grilled chicken and add in a few raw seeds, which will boost your protein and healthy fats intake. Last, ditch the calorie-laden dressing for a homemade option using healthy fat sources like avocado and olive oil.
Nutrition changes can seem very daunting if we try the dramatic approach. Unfortunately, that method rarely works and eventually leads to failure. Start slow and make small, sustainable changes over time and pretty soon healthy eating will become your new normal!