10 Simple Tips to Make Your Diet Healthier
A healthy diet 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.
This article discusses 25 small changes that can make a regular diet a little bit healthier.
The pace at which you eat influences how much you eat, as well as how likely you are to gain weight.
In fact, studies comparing different eating speeds show that fast eaters are up to 115% more likely to be obese than slow eaters (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Your appetite, how much you eat and how full you get is all controlled by hormones. These hormones signal your brain whether you’re hungry or full.
However, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive these messages, so eating more slowly would give your brain the time it needs to perceive that you are 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, 5Trusted Source).
Eating slowly is also linked to more thorough chewing, which has also been linked to better weight maintenance (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
Therefore, simply by eating slower and chewing more often, you can reduce your risk of eating too much and gaining excess weight.
You can easily make your diet a bit healthier by choosing whole grain bread in place of traditional refined-grain bread.
As opposed to refined grains, which have been linked to many health issues, whole grains have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
They are also a good source of fiber, B vitamins and several 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.
Greek yogurt (or Greek-style yogurt) is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt.
It has been strained to remove its excess whey, which is the watery part of milk. The end result is a yogurt that is higher in fat and protein than regular yogurt.
In fact, it contains up to three times the amount of protein found in the same amount of regular yogurt, or up to 9 grams per 100 grams (12Trusted Source, 13).
Eating a good source of protein helps you feel fuller for longer, helping you manage your appetite and eat fewer calories overall (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Furthermore, since Greek yogurt has been strained, it contains fewer carbs and lactose than regular yogurt, making it suitable for those who follow a low-carb diet or are lactose intolerant.
Simply replace some snacks or regular yogurt varieties with Greek yogurt for a hefty dose of protein and nutrients.
Just make sure to pick the non-flavored varieties, as flavored ones may be packed with added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
There are two important strategies to employ when you go grocery shopping: make your shopping list ahead of time and don’t go to the store hungry.
Not knowing exactly what you need makes room for impulse buying, while hunger can further exacerbate your impulses.
To make sure you don’t give in to your impulses, plan ahead and write down what you need beforehand.
By doing this and sticking to your list, you will not only buy healthier items but also save money and have healthier foods around the house.
Eggs are incredibly healthy, especially if you eat them in the morning.
They are rich in high-quality protein and many essential nutrients that people often don’t get enough of, such as choline.
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 over the next 36 hours, which can be quite helpful for weight loss (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
One study in healthy and fit young men showed that eggs caused significantly more fullness, less hunger and a lower desire to eat, compared to a breakfast consisting of cereal or croissants (19Trusted Source).
In fact, the men who had eggs for breakfast automatically ate 270–470 fewer calories at lunch and dinner buffets, compared to those who ate other breakfasts.
Therefore, simply replacing your current breakfast with eggs may result in major benefits for your health.
Protein is often referred to as the king of nutrients, and it does seem to have some superpowers.
Due to its ability to affect your hunger and satiety hormones, it’s the most filling of the macronutrients (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
One study showed that simply increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories made people eat 441 fewer calories per day, without actively restricting their intake (22Trusted Source).
What’s more, protein helps you retain muscle mass, which determines the rate of your metabolism. A high protein intake may increase the number of calories you burn by 80–100 per day (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
This is especially important for preventing the loss of muscle mass that can occur during weight loss and as you age (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
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, nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans and lean meat.
Drinking enough water is important for your health.
Many studies have shown that drinking water may benefit weight loss, weight maintenance and even slightly increase the number of calories you burn daily (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
Studies also show that drinking water before meals can reduce appetite and calorie intake during the subsequent meal in middle-aged and older adults (28Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
That said, the most important thing is to drink water instead of other beverages. This may drastically reduce your sugar and calorie intake (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).
People who drink mostly water have been shown to consume 200 fewer calories per day, on average, than those who drink other beverages (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
The way you prepare your food can drastically change its effects on your health.
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, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) (36Trusted Source).
All of these compounds have been linked to several diseases, including cancer and heart disease (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).
Healthier cooking methods include baking, broiling, simmering, slow-cooking, poaching, pressure cooking, stewing and sous-vide.
These methods do not promote the formation of these harmful compounds and thus make your food healthier (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, there is nothing to say you can’t enjoy the occasional grill or deep-fry, but try to use those methods sparingly.
A surprising number of people around the world are deficient in vitamin D, including 42% of the US population (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is very important for bone health and the proper function of your immune system. In fact, every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D, indicating its importance (47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).
Vitamin D is found in very few foods, but fatty seafood generally contains the highest amounts.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another commonly lacking nutrient found in fatty seafood. They have many important roles in the body, including reducing inflammation, maintaining heart health and promoting brain function (50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).
The Western diet is generally very high in omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation and have been linked to many chronic diseases (54Trusted Source).
Omega-3s help fight this inflammation and keep the body in a more balanced state (55Trusted Source).
If you don’t eat fatty seafood regularly, you should consider taking a supplement. Omega-3s and vitamin D can often be found together in a supplement.
Eating out does not have to involve unhealthy foods.
Consider “upgrading” your favorite fast food restaurant to one with healthier options.
There are many healthy fast food restaurants and fusion kitchens offering delicious and healthy meals.
They may just be a great replacement for your favorite burger or pizza joint. What’s more, you can generally get these meals at a very decent price.