At the recent Food For Your Whole Life health symposium in New York City, I caught up with Keri Gans, registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet. The book was inspired by her work with patients and based on the philosophy that diets don’t work.
Keri had a few key messages that resonated with me:
Eating habits (like all habits) form over an extended period of time, so a restrictive diet is a “quick fix” and not a behavioral change. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply want to embark on a healthier lifestyle, make small changes, one at a time, in order to reach that big goal. The concept is simple: you don’t move forward to the next change until the first one has been fulfilled and ingrained in your daily life. With each successful change, you start to develop new habits. Keri’s a self-confessed french fry lover (hence, the cover), so she knows about cravings. Don’t deprive yourself. Go ahead and indulge – but in moderation.
Four easy ways to change your diet and eat healthier:
It’s a message that’s been repeated over and over, but it works. Start with eating breakfast for one week. Then stretch it out to a month, and so on. A balanced breakfast will get your metabolism going and fill you up until lunch.
Try it: Pair a banana or apple with slow-cooked steel cut oatmeal, best breakfast sandwich or a slice of gluten-free multi-grain bread with roasted almond butter (variation). Wash it down with low-fat milk or homemade almond milk.
Really! It’s all about redefining what ‘snacking’ is. Avoid candy bars or chips. A snack should be an opportunity to take in nutrients you might be lacking throughout your day. Don’t go 3-5 hours without a snack – you need it to give you energy throughout the day.
Create fitness opportunities in daily activities
Regardless of what you eat, exercise is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Make time for exercise, don’t find time. Schedule exercise into your day whenever you can (for example, get off the bus one stop earlier than needed, use the stairs up to your apartment). In the workplace, walk over to your co-worker’s desk instead of emailing. Find out what works for you.
Packing a lunch does double-duty – you save money and you eat healthy! A packed lunch takes the guesswork out of what you’re eating, and will prevent you from splurging on that slice of pizza from the food court. Take advantage of fresh, seasonal foods.