Gradual Nutrition Goals for a Healthier You: 3 Easy Ways to Build Healthy Eating Habits by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
Rather than making the usual drastic changes, try smaller adjustments to your nutrition routine and build on those successes to help you achieve your goals. Here are three ways to build healthy habits into your healthy eating routine this year:
1. Go for Nutrient Density
Nutrient-dense foods pack a lot of nutrition relative to their calorie content and can help guide food choices.
- Cut back on added oils, butter and fried foods to reduce fat intake, rather than eliminating healthy fats like avocados or nuts.
- Cut down on added sugar, but don’t omit nutrient-dense fruits. Aside from their natural sugar, fruits offer fiber which helps to fill you up and vitamins and minerals which can help you meet your daily needs.
- Low-fat, protein-rich foods such as lean meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products and beans can help meet your needs for protein, vitamins and minerals for fewer calories than higher-fat foods such as fatty meats, cheese or whole-fat dairy products.
2. Try a New Fruit or Vegetable Once a Week
If you’re not ready to tackle a whole new food item, you can start slowly with a different variety or relative of a familiar food. All fruits and vegetables are unique in terms of the healthy phytonutrients they provide, so variety is really important to your good health.
- If your salad is always made with iceberg lettuce, switch to deep green romaine or baby spinach instead.
- Try a new variety of cabbage or apple or cook some purple cauliflower instead of the usual white.
3. Start Small With Healthy Food Swaps
Making healthy food swaps can boost nutrition and save you a lot of calories. For instance:
- A cup of whole milk has 150 calories and about 7 grams of fat; nonfat milk has 90 calories and no fat.
- Switching from regular ground beef to ground turkey breast can cut about 10 grams of fat and 100 calories per 3-ounce serving.
- Replacing a 12-ounce glass of orange juice with a whole orange will add 3 grams of fiber to your day and save you about 100 calories.
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