9 Simple Ways to Make Beneficial Long-Term Diet Changes

Does the thought of making changes in your diet have you feeling intimidated? If so, you aren’t alone. Many people who want to make the change to healthier eating often wonder where in the world they should begin and how they’re going to stick to such a big change.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be as scary as you probably think it is. To help you start making smarter choices in the way you eat, we’re sharing nine simple ways to make beneficial long-term diet changes. Even though dieting is a lifestyle commitment, it certainly doesn’t have to be challenging!

1. Start With Small Changes First

Making changes in your diet can often be very overwhelming, especially if you’ve become accustomed to always eating a certain way. Thinking of all the changes you may want to make and foods you need to cut out can leave you feeling like you’re doomed for failure.

Instead of falling into that trap before you even get started, focus on making small changes as opposed to diving right in. It’s less intimidating when you start off slow and make gradual changes with healthier swaps. Plus, you’ll be setting yourself up for greater success this way.

For example, you can get started with healthy eating by making a few simple swaps each day. Instead of skipping breakfast or having a sugary cereal, have a bowl of oatmeal with a pinch of brown sugar instead. It’ll still be a sweat treat but keep you fuller longer and have the added benefit of giving you sustained energy. If you normally reach for a “junk” afternoon snack such as candy or something else pumped with refined sugars, try a sweet fruit such as a mango or berries. They’ll satisfy your sweet-tooth while providing your body with benefits junk food does not.

2. Don’t Cut Your Favorite Foods

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When making long-term diet changes, your immediate thought is that you’re going to have to cut out all of your favorite foods. Fortunately though, this simply isn’t true. Sticking to a diet is a lot easier when you don’t restrict yourself too much. After all, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a cheat meal every now and then. The key is to allow yourself those foods on occasion, but to make healthier choices a majority of the time and you’ll be just fine. I try to stick to the 80/20 rule — 80% of the time I eat as healthy as possible, 20% of the time I let myself indulge.

3. Keep a Food Journal

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to make smarter choices with what you eat, keeping a food journal can help. By recording what you eat, when you eat, and how you’re feeling before consuming a meal, you can learn a lot about your eating habits.

For instance, you may notice that you reach for snacks when you’re feeling bored or stressed out. That’s a sign that food isn’t necessarily what you need in the moment and that there’s something else (a deeper issue) you should address. If it’s stress that’s triggering you to eat something unhealthy, you can implement other stress relieving techniques to curb your cravings.

Recording the foods you eat on a daily basis will also show you where you can make healthier swaps in your diet. For example, if you notice that you’re often hitting the vending machine for a bag of potato chips at three o’clock, you can starting packing hummus and crackers to eat instead.

4. Plan Your Meals in Advance

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One of the downfalls of dieting is that moment when you have no idea what to eat for dinner. However, you’re starving and you need to get something. With no food in the house and no idea what you could possibly cook, you resort to getting takeout or some other junk food that’s quick and easy, that’s probably not the healthiest for you to eat.

If that’s ever happened to you, there’s no need to worry because we’ve all been there. Although, if you really want to commit to a diet change, you need to get serious about it. Instead of allowing yourself to fall victim to those moments, you can take the time to plan your meals in advance. Start by sitting down every Sunday and planning out your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks you’re going to have. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worthwhile because it forced you to stick to a plan. Once you have your meals scheduled out, you can go to the grocery store, get everything you need.

5. Try a Meal Delivery Service

When you set out to make long-term diet changes, your first hurdle is often figuring out what you should be eating and what you should avoid. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy meal delivery services that can help you out with this.

A personal favorite of mine is a smoothie delivery service called “Daily Harvest”. They deliver you a weekly box of already prepped smoothies. Just drop them in your blender for half a minute, and they’re ready to enjoy! The best part of meal delivery services like this is that they make your life easier and take all the guesswork of dieting out of the equation.

6. Focus on Portion Control

Unfortunately, we’ve become accustomed to eating larger portions in the United States because it’s what is typically served to us. By shrinking your portion sizes, you’ll consume less food and less calories. A caloric restriction is one of the best ways to lose weight (while also working out).

If you like to regularly eat out, one simple trick is to divide your plate in half. You can eat some of what you’re served and take the rest home to enjoy the next day.

7. Get an Accountability Partner

When it comes to dieting, sometimes it helps to have someone there to lend a little support. If you can, find a friend or family member to be your accountability partner throughout your journey. You two can build your own support system as you make those long-term diet changes within your lives.

You can check-in with each other each week to see how things are going, share healthy recipes, and even get together for dinner dates. When you’re encouraging one another, sticking to a diet is going to be so much easier. After all, you wouldn’t want to let your accountability partner down, would you?

If you don’t have someone in your life to hold you accountable, don’t panic! You can actually turn to online communities for support as well. One study showed that internet communities have played a vital role in weight loss progress.

8. Take Time to Savor Your Food

Let’s be honest, we all lead such busy lives these days. We’re often on the go and therefore we don’t take the time to truly enjoy and savor the food we have on our plates. Within minutes, we’ve managed to scarf down a meal without even realizing it.

However, if you want your diet to be successful, you need to take the time to just slow down. Instead of rushing to eat your meals, chew each bite thoughtfully. Enjoy the flavors of whatever it is you happen to be eating. And listen to your body! When you eat a meal too quickly, your body doesn’t have time to tell you that it’s full and you’ll wind up overeating.

By taking your time, you’ll notice the signals your body is giving you and you’ll know when to stop. In fact, it was discovered in a recent study that people who ate slowly consumed fewer calories, but were still satisfied after their meals.

9. Know That You Won’t be Perfect

Whenever you’re making any kind of big change in your life, it’s going to be difficult at first. For that reason, it’s so important that you don’t get discouraged or beat yourself up if you make a mistake. You’re not going to be perfect when striving to change your diet. There are going to be times when you slip up. And that’s okay.

The most important thing is that you get right back on track. Indulging in one unhealthy meal isn’t going to immediately undo any of the progress you’ve made. So, you just need to keep moving forward and strive to do the best you can each and every day.

 


Emily Brewster is a trainer at IronPlate Studios.

Nutrition Straight Talk | Alcohol & Training (Part 3 of 3)

With Memorial Day weekend starting in just a few hours, you need to watch this one if you’re trying to get in shape and are going to be tempted at the many barbecues happening! Have a great weekend!

You have questions… we have answers. Welcome to IronPlate’s “Nutrition Straight Talk” where we’ll be tackling a variety of food-related questions in less than 60 seconds. Feel free to post any questions you have in the comments section and we’ll get to those in the future. Enjoy!

Nutrition Straight Talk | Alcohol & Training (Part 2 of 3)

Going out with friends tonight for drinks and trying to get in shape at the same time? Then you need to watch this one!

.You have questions… we have answers. Welcome to IronPlate’s “Nutrition Straight Talk” where we’ll be tackling a variety of food-related questions in less than 60 seconds. Feel free to post any questions you have in the comments section and we’ll get to those in the future. Enjoy!

Nutrition Straight Talk | Alcohol & Training? (Part 1 of 3)

Going out with friends tonight for drinks and trying to get in shape at the same time? Then you need to watch this one!

You have questions… we have answers. Welcome to IronPlate’s “Nutrition Straight Talk” where we’ll be tackling a variety of food-related questions in less than 60 seconds. Feel free to post any questions you have in the comments section and we’ll get to those in the future. Enjoy!

 

Ridiculous Tahini Sauce

We often get asked what sauces and condiments can be used to dress up otherwise dull chicken breast, eggs and grilled salmon, so for the next few weeks we’re going to focus on some different recipes that will keep life exciting. They’ll all be easy to make and, better yet, pack a taste punch.

This easy-to-make tahini sauce is completely ridiculous: ridiculously delicious, ridiculously healthy, ridiculously quick. We love it on kale salads, over grilled chicken breast, over vegetables; on pretty much anything. (I’m amazed we haven’t yet drank it straight from the bowl.) If you’re looking to shake things up and get away from salsa, give this a whirl — you’ll be ridiculously happy you did.

Prep Time: 3 minutes | Cook Time: 0 minutes | Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup tahini, stirred
1 garlic clove, minced finely
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne, optional
2 to 6 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 tablespoon cilantro, optional

DIRECTIONS

Whisk all ingredients, except water and cilantro, in a bowl until combined. The mixture will be very pasty, but that is normal. Add water a couple of tablespoons at a time and whisk until you have the desired consistency. Keep it somewhat thick if making a sauce for chicken or water it down a bit more if you’re using it as a salad dressing.

Taste for seasoning and adjust with more salt or lemon juice, as you prefer. Top it with some of the cilantro and dig in! Store covered in the refrigerator up to 7 days.

Enjoy!

Mexican Quinoa Salad

It was only a matter of time that we shared a quinoa recipe and we’re surprised it’s taken us this long, especially since it’s so damned good for you. It’s high in protein; gluten-free; a good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese; and contains all nine essential amino acids, which other grains do not.

This recipe is great for week day dinners. Throw some chicken breast or salmon on top and you’re all set!

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup quinoa (we like Trader Joe’s organic tri-color quinoa)
1 can (14 oz) fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can (15-oz) organic black beans
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup corn
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1/ Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for an additional minute.

2/ Stir in quinoa until fully mixed. Then add broth, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, beans and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice and avocado.

3/ Enjoy!

Tenacious Turkey Chili

It’s snowing like mad outside, but we’ve got a big pot of this going inside, so we’re happy. We’ll be even happier later on when we dive into it. 

Turkey chili is the ultimate easy, healthy, comforting make-ahead meal. You can whip a pot of this up in less than an hour, freeze portions for during the week and know you’re covered. Even better, not only is this version super low-fat and high in protein, it’s off the chart with flavor. Tweak the amount of jalapenos and chili powder to your liking and feel free to throw in any additional vegetables you like — we’ll sometimes add zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower. So good and so easy!

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30-40 minutes | Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs ground turkey
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeño, minced (use less if you don’t like heat)
1 red pepper, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 cups kale, chopped
1 package frozen corn
1 can black beans
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
24 oz chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder (omit if you don’t like heat)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large heavy pot, heat oil and cook turkey until lightly browned, breaking up turkey into bite-sized pieces.
2. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, red pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powders and basil. Cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
3. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, bay leaves, corn, beans, sweet potato and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
4. Add kale and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until kale is wilted.
5. Serve with cauliflower rice and low fat sour cream (or plain yogurt). Enjoy!