Small Diet Changes That Make a Big Difference

By on May 22, 2017
Small Diet Changes That Make a Big Difference

By Helen Sanders –

We all want to be as healthy as possible – but it’s easier said than done. It can be difficult to completely change your diet or cut out the foods you love. Fortunately, there are little things you can do each day that will make a difference in the long run. 

Add chia seeds to yogurt or cereal

If you already eat yogurt or cereal during the day, simply sprinkle one or two tablespoons of chia seeds on top for added nutrition. They may be tiny, but they’re full of goodness!

Chia seeds contain fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, plus various other vitamins and minerals.  With their high fiber content (up to 40% of the recommended daily value in just two tablespoons), they can curb hunger, prevent constipation and protect your heart. Their high omega-3 fatty acid content also aides in protecting the heart by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation which can put a strain on your blood vessels.

Chia seeds are also filled with calcium and magnesium, which help to maintain bone strength. This is important because as we age, our bones begin to deteriorate and our risk of osteoporosis increases. 

Swap red meat for oily fish

Instead of feasting on a juicy steak, why not try salmon or trout instead? You don’t even need to do it every day; the American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish just twice a week. So, why fish? Well, they’re full of healthy fats—that is, omega-3 fatty acids (whereas red meats are high in “bad” fats).

As previously mentioned, omega-3 fatty acids are good for maintaining heart health.  But, they’re also good for keeping your mind sharper, longer.  Research shows they may help to improve symptoms of mood disorders and prevent dementia. Although more research is needed in regards to their benefits for cognitive functioning, one thing is for sure—consuming omega-3 fats definitely won’t hurt!

Snack on protein-rich foods

Throughout the day, it’s normal to feel hungry or low on energy in between your meals. That’s when you usually reach for a snack, right? But, perhaps you should start paying attention to what you’re snacking on. It might not seem like a big deal, but little things add up in the long run.

Sugary snacks may provide a short burst of energy, but that’s usually followed by a “crash.” On top of that, you’re left craving even more sugar—and we know that eating too much sugar may increase your risk for developing pre-diabetes. Or, maybe you tend to grab salty snacks, like chips. These are no better, though. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of getting a stroke.

Instead, you should snack on protein-rich foods, such as unsalted peanuts, Greek yogurt, roasted chickpeas or veggies dipped in hummus. Protein is important for maintaining and building muscle—something we lose as we age.

Don’t skip breakfast

In 2011, a survey revealed that about 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day. If you’re one of those people, perhaps it’s time to reconsider your choices.

You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but maybe you don’t know why. Well, eating breakfast has an effect on the way you metabolize glucose throughout the rest of the day. If you skip breakfast, your hunger hormones will surge, resulting in overeating later in the day. This can cause large spikes (followed by large declines) in your blood glucose levels—increasing your risk of developing diabetes.

So, wake up 10 minutes earlier if you need to in order to fit breakfast into your schedule. Or, make your breakfast the night before. It really doesn’t need to be anything fancy—some wheat-free pancakes or scrambled eggs will do.

Sip a smoothie

Speaking of breakfast, consider making a smoothie if you’re short on time in the mornings. You can use a vanilla yogurt base (or milk) and add whichever fruits and veggies you’d like.

Bananas make smoothies thicker, plus they’re full of nutrients. They contain potassium, which helps to control the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles. Adding blueberries to your smoothies will provide you with the many benefits of antioxidants (which include protection against chronic diseases).

The great thing about smoothies is that they mask the taste of fruits or veggies that you might not enjoy. They’re also super convenient and quick to make!

 

Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives. 

 

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Small Diet Changes That Make a Big Difference