Want to improve your diet but not sure where to start? Here are 4 ways to improve your diet today so you can work toward a healthier tomorrow!
Sometimes figuring out what we need to do to improve our health can be a bit tricky: there are so many books, posts, videos, and more surrounding the topic of nutrition that it can be dizzying, especially if people are beginners and aren’t sure where to start.
Instead of adding some crazy tips that aren’t practical, I really want to reaffirm some of the basics that work. Nutrition doesn’t have to get complicated. Sometimes we just need to get back to basics (a good nutrition certification can help!).
Since things can feel pretty overwhelming sometimes when there are too many things we see that need work in our lives, I tried to keep this pretty simple. But my number once take-away that you should remember from this post is that you should pick one thing each week to focus on improving.
Pick just one thing and work on it till it’s a habit, then pick another. And don’t wait until tomorrow – there is no better time than now! You can implement these changes starting TODAY.
4 ways to improve your diet today
If you’re serious about not starting another “diet” but about making a lasting change in your life for the long term, here are 4 ways to improve your diet today. It doesn’t require you to go out and buy any exotic supplements or diet pills. This is practical, no-nonsense advice that everyone can use!
Reduce added sugars
This one can be tough! You might have noticed on my blog that I love to post dessert recipes, and many of them have added sugars. While it’s great to have those treats once in a while in a balanced nutrition plan, it’s really important to work on reducing added sugars in our daily diets.
Most Americans on average consume about 94 grams of added sugar daily (22 teaspoons), which adds up to about 77 pounds of added sugar per year. This number is has actually gone down since it’s peak in 1999, but it’s still higher than the government’s dietary recommendation of no more than 50 grams of added sugars per day.
It might not be completely practical for you to completely remove added sugars in your diet, but try to look at the foods you eat the most and make a few swaps:
- Use unsweetened non-dairy milk instead of regular non-dairy milk
- Use Stevia drops to sweeten coffee or tea instead of sugar
- Replace half the sugar in your baked goods with baking Stevia
- Swap soda for a naturally sweetened sparkling water or soda alternative like Zevia
- Instead of eating a donut every morning, eat a donut as a treat once on the weekend and eat a higher protein and balanced breakfast every day
These are just a few ideas for lowering the added sugar in your diet, and while these seem like very small changes, many small changes over time can create big results.
There has been a lot of buzz around intermittent fasting these days where people will fast for a certain number of hours and skip breakfast and sometimes lunch then backload their calories for the day into the afternoon hours.
While intermittent fasting (IF) might be something that advanced fitness enthusiasts want to tackle to reduce their body fat and increase insulin sensitivity, it is not something that I recommend at all for people who are struggling with eating enough food, beginners, or people who have struggled with eating disorders or borderline eating disorders (as well as medical conditions like hypoglycemia and diabetes).
The importance of breakfast for weight control and satiety throughout the day has been documented by the National Weight Control Registry. The NWCR registry is a registry of over 10,000 people who have maintained at least a 30 pound weight loss for over 1 year. The registry was started in 1994, and 78% of people in the registry who keep the weight off long term eat breakfast daily.
Eating a whole-food breakfast daily fuels your day, prepares your body for the demands and stresses of the day, and keeps you from over-eating later in the day.
Don’t skip meals
This goes right along with the previous tip: cutting corners on meals doesn’t help! Even if you get too busy and forget to eat, you are doing your body a disservice by not consuming enough calories to fuel your body. Reducing calories moderately to lose weight is great, but cutting too much is not good.
Very low calorie diets and eating too little can result in the body compensating by dropping your metabolic rate to maintain homeostasis. Instead of helping your metabolism, you’re actually reducing it when you don’t eat enough calories. Moderate reductions in calories are the best bet!
Your body needs fuel throughout the day, don’t skip meals if you can help it! If you get super busy, make sure you schedule meal and snack breaks, or pack some easy meal and snack options, like nuts, pre-cut fruit or veggies, and homemade protein smoothies.
Eat more fruits and veggies
If fruits and veggies aren’t making it onto your plate at every meal and snack, you’re missing out! Fresh produce can be a powerhouse of nutrients since they are filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and water. Each meal or snack we eat should have some kind of fresh fruit or vegetable included in it (aim for the recommended 5-9 servings daily).
Also, fruit or vegetable juices aren’t a great substitute for fruits and vegetables. While fresh pressed juices can be a great addition to your diet for added nutrients, the bulk of your fruit and vegetable intake should be whole fruits and veggies, that way you get all the benefits of the filling fiber that is removed with juicing.
Boost your nutrition knowledge
Besides fitness, one of my passions is nutrition, and I’m working on staying educated on a regular basis. As a fitness professional it’s important for me to stay up-to-date with new research in ways to help my clients and students. Last year I took the ACE Health Coach certification (it’s excellent!) and this year I am taking the ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist course. I’m excited!
This program does not give people what they need to be dietitians or nutritionists, those require degrees and state licensing. It does, however, give trainers and health coaches the tools necessary to guide their clients towards proper nutrition within their scope of practice using the governments nutrition recommendations.
The ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist course helps fitness professionals gain a better understanding of the importance of nutrition for their own goals and their clients goals. The course includes 2 books, online quizzes, and online videos to help walk you through the certification process.
If you want to help your clients get a leg up on nutrition to meet their goals, check out the ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist program!
Disclaimer: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice from a qualified healthcare provider. Always use common sense and seek medical attention when needed
Post hero image courtesy Unsplash
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist