No matter what your goal is — whether you’re aiming to lose weight, boost your athletic performance or simply improve your overall health — you might find, like many people do, that improving your eating habits is one of the most difficult parts of the process.
There are several different reasons why many find changing their diet is a challenge, but mostly what it boils down to is the fact that we’re only human. In other words, changing any type of habit, including the way we eat, simply isn’t easy to do.
For this reason, when it comes to building healthier eating habits, so many experts recommend approaching the process one small step at a time. Instead of clearing out your entire kitchen and declaring you’ll eat nothing but salad from this day forward, it’s more effective to progressively add nutritious foods into your meals, while at the same time, slowly phasing the less nutritious foods out.
The former strategy usually leads to feelings of overwhelming frustration and deprivation, and ultimately a crash-and-burn type of failure, while the latter teaches us to embrace a balanced diet by reinforcing healthy eating habits that we can sustain over the long-term.
Billy Polson, a C.S.C.S. trainer and owner of DIAKADI Fitness Performance Facility in San Francisco, explains this idea in simple terms: “Making a few small changes in our daily diet can make a big difference in the long run,” he said.
Here, he shares some of his favorite “healthy food swaps,” providing suggestions for more nutritious and satisfying options for each meal of the day.
In addition to maintaining a regular exercise routine, getting adequate amounts of sleep and effectively managing your stress, by including these healthier selections in your diet more regularly you’re sure to see more progress towards all your health and fitness goals.
Just remember, plan to phase these swaps into your diet gradually, instead of trying to tackle all of them at once.
Swap Out: Oatmeal or Any Type of Cereal
“Although oatmeal and whole-grain cereals have great health benefits such as fiber and carbs that can boost your metabolism, these packaged foods are typically full of sugar which can make you gain weight and make you crash later on in the day,” Polson explains.
Swap In: 1 or 2 Scrambled Eggs and a Homemade Green Smoothie
“Having one or two scrambled eggs in the morning will stave off hunger longer than oatmeal or cereal due to the high amount of protein,” says Polson. “Adding in a healthy green smoothie — which offers many more beneficial nutrients and antioxidants — is also a great alternative to high-fiber foods like oatmeal. Green smoothies also keep you hydrated due to the high amount of water found in the fruits and vegetables.”