A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been scientifically proven to provide numerous health benefits, such as reducing your risk of several chronic diseases and keeping your body healthy.
However, making major changes to your diet can sometimes seem very overwhelming.
Instead of making big changes, it may be better to start with a few smaller ones. And it’s likely more manageable to start with just one thing, rather than all of them at once.
This article discusses 25 small changes that can make a regular diet a little bit healthier. Just remember you don’t need to try to do them all at once. Instead, you may want to add these changes into your life over time.
In fact, studies comparing different eating speeds show that fast eaters are much more likely to eat more and have a higher body mass index (BMI) than slow eaters (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Your appetite, how much you eat, and how full you get are all controlled by hormones. Hormones signal to your brain whether you’re hungry or full.
However, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive these messages. That’s why eating more slowly may give your brain the time it needs to perceive that you’re full.
Studies have confirmed this, showing that eating slowly may reduce the number of calories you consume at meals and help you lose weight (4Trusted Source).
Eating slowly is also linked to more thorough chewing, which has also been linked to improved weight control (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
So, simply eating slower and chewing more often may help you eat less.
Refined grains have been associated with many health issues. Whole grains, on the other hand, have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
They’re also a good source of:
- B vitamins
- minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
There are many varieties of whole grain bread available, and many of them even taste better than refined bread.
Just make sure to read the label to ensure that your bread is made with whole grains only, not a mixture of whole and refined grains. It’s also preferable that the bread contains whole seeds or grains.
It has been strained to remove its excess whey, which is the watery part of milk. This results in a final product that’s higher in fat and protein than regular yogurt.
In fact, it contains up to twice as much protein as the same amount of regular yogurt does, or up to 10 grams per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Eating a good source of protein can help you feel fuller for longer, which can help manage your appetite and reduce your food intake, if that’s your goal (12Trusted Source).
Plus, since Greek yogurt has been strained, it contains fewer carbs and less lactose than regular yogurt. This makes it suitable for people who follow a low carb diet or are lactose intolerant.
Simply replace some snacks or regular yogurt varieties with Greek yogurt for a hearty dose of protein and nutrients.
Just make sure to pick the plain, unflavored varieties. Flavored yogurts may be packed with added sugar and other less nutritious ingredients.
Not knowing exactly what you need makes room for impulse buying, while hunger can cause you to toss even more low nutrient foods into your shopping cart.
That’s why the best strategy is to plan ahead and write down what you need beforehand. By doing this and sticking to your list, you’ll not only buy healthier items to keep around the house, but you’ll also save money.
They are rich in high quality protein and many essential nutrients that people often don’t get enough of, such as choline (13Trusted Source).
When looking at studies comparing various types of calorie-matched breakfasts, eggs come out on top.
Eating eggs in the morning increases feelings of fullness. This has been shown to cause people to consume fewer calories at later meals. It can be quite helpful for weight loss, if that’s your goal (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
For example, one study in 50 people found that eating an egg-based breakfast reduced feelings of hunger and decreased the amount of calories consumed later in the day than a breakfast of cereal (16Trusted Source).
So, simply replacing your current breakfast with eggs may result in major benefits for your health.
Due to its ability to affect your hunger and satiety hormones, it’s often considered the most filling of the macronutrients (12Trusted Source).
One study showed that eating a high-protein meal decreased levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, more than a high-carb meal in people with obesity (17Trusted Source).
What’s more, protein helps you retain muscle mass and may also slightly increase the number of calories you burn per day (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source). It’s also important for preventing the loss of muscle mass that can occur with weight loss and as you age (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
If you’re trying to lose weight, aim to add a source of protein to each meal and snack. It will help you feel fuller for longer, curb cravings, and make you less likely to overeat.
Good sources of protein include:
- dairy products
- peanut butter
- lean meat
Many studies have shown that drinking water can increase weight loss and promote weight maintenance, and it may even slightly increase the number of calories you burn each day (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Studies also show that drinking water before meals can reduce your appetite and food intake during the following meal (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
That said, the most important thing is to drink water instead of other beverages. This may drastically reduce your intake of sugar and calories (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
Drinking water regularly may also be linked to improved diet quality and could decrease your calorie intake from beverages (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
Grilling, broiling, frying, and deep-frying are all popular methods of preparing meat and fish.
However, during these types of cooking methods, several potentially toxic compounds are formed. These include (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source):
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- advanced glycation end products
- heterocyclic amines
All of these compounds have been linked to several health conditions, including cancer and heart disease (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
Healthier cooking methods include:
- pressure cooking
- slow cooking
These methods don’t promote the formation of these harmful compounds and may make your food healthier (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
Although you can still enjoy the occasional grilled or deep-fried dish, it’s best to use those methods sparingly.
However, many commercial varieties of coffee contain lots of additional ingredients, such as sugar, syrup, heavy cream, and sweeteners.
Drinking these varieties quickly negates all of coffee’s health benefits and instead adds lots of extra sugar and calories.
Instead, try drinking your coffee black or just adding a small amount of milk or cream instead of sugar.
Completely overhauling your diet all at once can be a recipe for disaster.
Instead, try to incorporate some of the small changes listed above to make your diet healthier.
Some of these tips will help you keep your portion sizes reasonable, while others will help you add nutrients or adapt to something new.
Together, they’ll have a big impact on making your overall diet healthier and more sustainable, without a huge change in your habits.