While many people might be taking a pass on formal New Year’s resolutions this year, others may mark a fresh start this month by resolving to make up for poor eating habits of the past. But this motivation is often focused on a diet that’s too ambitious, or too restrictive. Without a solid plan, you may fail quickly. So consider a compromise: start with these three easy ways to eat a healthier diet.
Aim for real food only
Look at your plate and note what’s processed and what isn’t. Maybe it’s the whole thing (like a frozen dinner), or maybe it’s just part of your meal (like the bottled dressing on your salad). Think of where you can swap processed foods for healthier versions. Ideas include
- eating whole-grain pasta instead of enriched white-flour spaghetti
- having quinoa instead of white rice
- making your own snacks like baked chickpeas, instead of opening a bag of potato chips.
Processed foods are linked with chronic inflammation and other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. One of the healthiest diets you can eat is a Mediterranean-style eating plan rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, small amounts of cheese).
Schedule your meals and snacks
Set timers on your phone for three different meals and two snacks (if you need them), and don’t eat in between these scheduled times. This might curb your cravings, reduce stress about when you’ll eat next, and cut down on the extra calories of unnecessary snacking — a real challenge if you’re close to a refrigerator all day while at home or work.
Avoid scheduling late-night meals or snacks, when your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) senses that you’re supposed to be sleeping. “During the circadian