Changing habits can be a slow and arduous process, particularly when it comes to food. Improving your nutrition can seem daunting, especially if you feel like there are many, many improvements to make. So, start small, make your changes sustainable and permanent. Using the list below, slowly make one change per week, each week maintain the changes already made and add a new one.
- Start your day with a piece of fruit.
- For fruit with the best flavor and price, consider the season (see chart). Fruit traditionally harvested in the spring includes cherries, lemons, navel oranges, rhubarb, strawberries, apricots, blackberries and blueberries.
- Add healthy fat each day. Healthy fat in the diet provides a sense of lasting fullness, energy and adds flavor to meals.
- Include avocado, nuts, seeds and olives in salads and veggie side dishes.
- Make your own trail mix with a variety of nuts and unsweetened coconut flakes, checkout these 21 recipes .
- Bust the crockpot out for an easy red or yellow Thai curry using coconut milk. The house will smell amazing when you get home from work!
- Be adventurous, try your hand at Chovocado (chocolate + avocado) pudding.
- Eat probiotic rich, fermented food every day. Fermented foods are rich in enzymes, improve digestion, increase vitamin content of foods and they help restore good bacteria in the gut.
- Look for plain yogurt with live probiotic cultures, add your own fruit or a touch of honey to avoid tons of added sugar and dyes.
- Add unpasteurized sauerkraut to salads, sandwiches and burgers. Sauerkraut makes an excellent condiment, much like mustard or mayonnaise, offering a high note to a meal.
- Stir a teaspoon of miso into warm broth and enjoy as tea, morning, noon or night. This light soup is nourishing and calming. If you are trying to avoid GMO foods, purchase organic miso paste.
- Drink your bacteria! Try kombucha, kefir and water kefir. All 3 are easy to make at home or they can be purchased in the natural food section of most markets.
- Looking for recipes to make your own probiotic foods? Checkout Cultures for Health for a lively blog and recipe collection.
- Drink a cup of tea. Teas contain a variety ofphytonutrients that are beneficial to our health. Explore red, white, black, herbal and fruit teas.
- You can always travel the traditional route, steeping your tea in hot water.
- Or, you can create an infusion, add tea to cold water and let sit for 30 minutes or all day.
- I love blueberry tea in my water bottle, a delicious change from plain water.
- Eat 2-3 servings of leafy greens during the week. Popeye suffered through the green slime in a can to get stronger, but these days people are exploring a variety of tasty green recipes for all the nutrients they contain. Leafy greens are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, folate, calcium and iron!
- Reach beyond the spinach:
- Chard – red, green, rainbow
- Beet greens
- Kale – dinosaur, red, green curly leaf
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Reach beyond the spinach:
- Replace 1 sugar-laden dessert or snack each day with fruit, dark chocolate, dates or figs. Added sugar in our diet accounts for several hundred calories per day, calories that have zero nutritional benefit. Checkout your food labels, read the ingredient list and observe the grams of sugar per serving. Did you know 4g of sugar = 1 teaspoon?
7. Include a quality protein at all meals and snacks. Protein helps balance blood sugar, decreases sugar cravings and creates a sense of fullness that will last until your next meal.
- Hummus, Black bean dip
- Smoked salmon, Beef jerky
- Nuts, Seeds
- Greek yogurt
- All meat, fish and poultry
8. Water your garden. Drink 3L of water each day. Find a vessel that you enjoy holding and drinking from. Add elements that increase your intake, items like ice cubes, straws or sippy lids. Keep water on you at all times and sip throughout the day.
Grow your changes slowly. Look for new ideas to add to the list.
Sherrill Collins, MS, RDN, LD