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Sensi Magazine

Starting Over (Again)

Mar 31, 2019 10:25PM ● By Alex Martinez
About a month ago, around the New Year, many of us likely promised to make drastic changes to our diet. For some, that meant adopting a strict (and joyless) list of food that’s acceptable to eat. It’s no wonder these resolutions are often short-lived. When it comes to making lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle habits, slow and steady wins the race.

No doubt, committing to eating healthier is an often-repeated New Year’s resolution. But unless your new practices are sustainable, any progress you make could be short-lived. Small, minimally disruptive diet and lifestyle changes over time stand a better shot at becoming permanent healthy habits. Whether you want to lose 30 pounds, get control of your health, or achieve better nutrition, it’s best to make small but powerful changes. You will see results that last.

If you’re ready to take some small yet mighty steps toward better health, give these tips a try.

Cut out sugary drinks immediately. Soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sweet tea raise your blood glucose and add empty calories to your daily intake. Though it can be a hard habit to kick, do all you can to eliminate these drinks from your diet. Replace them with fresh water, low-fat milk, flavored calorie-free carbonated water, and unsweetened tea and coffee.

When you’re craving a snack, you can try a healthier whole food option, like slices of avocado, a handful of nuts, kale chips, a small serving of Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit, veggies with hummus, or nut butter

Purge the junk food. Cookies, chips, sweets, and other snacks are hard to resist when they are an arm’s length away. The best way to avoid them is by removing them from your home. Don’t worry. When you’re craving a snack, you can try a healthier whole food option, like slices of avocado, a handful of nuts, kale chips, a small serving of Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit, veggies with hummus, or nut butter. These snacks are more satisfying and pack more nutrition than your processed favorites.

Do some research and identify an eating pattern. You don’t have to stick to a rigid plan that restricts many of your favorite foods. Some effective plans include vegetarian or flexitarian, Mediterranean, low-carbohydrate, and low-glycemic.

Choose leaner cuts of meat. Saturated fat the kind found in animal protein raises blood cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease. An easy way to reduce your saturated fat intake is by choosing lean cuts of meat. Avoid or reduce your consumption of lard, fatback, and high-fat meats like regular ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, spareribs, and the skin from chicken and other poultry. Instead, choose skinless poultry; fish; turkey; beef trimmed of fat, including round, sirloin, flank, and tenderloin; and lean cuts of pork, including center loin chop and tenderloin.

Small diet and lifestyle changes over time that aren’t too disruptive stand a better shot at becoming permanent healthy habits.

Plan your meal around veggies (instead of making them the afterthought). Try to fill at least half of your plate with vegetables like spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and eggplant. Veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and Brussels sprouts are delicious when roasted, and sautéeing cabbage, bell peppers, and eggplant brings out their natural flavors. Start any meal with a simple salad of mixed greens to help you meet your veggie quota.

Try lettuce wraps instead of bread. Iceberg, green leaf, and butter lettuce make a surprisingly delicious bread substitute for sandwiches. Nestle burgers or grilled chicken inside a lettuce “cup” in place of hamburger buns. Carefully wrap deli meats and toppings into a low-carb lettuce sub sandwich and secure it with wax paper and a piece of tape to hold the sandwich together while you eat it.

Eat veggie noodles in place of pasta. Veggie noodles are a delicious, lower-carb option that can be eaten in place of grain-based pasta. A spiralizer is a kitchen tool that can quickly and easily turn vegetables into noodles. You can use a standard vegetable peeler for a similar result. For even more convenience, you can now find spiralized veggies in the freezer or produce section of many grocery stores. Try noodles made from zucchini, sweet potato, carrot, or spaghetti squash. Top them with chili, Bolognese sauce, or use them to make a cold pasta salad or noodle dishes like Pad Thai. Also try cauliflower, butternut, or broccoli “rice” for a lower-carb option to regular rice.

If you found your New Year’s resolutions to be a little too painful, punishing, or unsustainable, you’ll find that making easier changes that you will actually enjoy is a better game plan for success. You can still make this the year you finally shift into a healthier lifestyle and start moving toward building a better you.