If you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog you know that I’m a big champion for making small, sustainable changes in order to reap long-term health benefits. While there isn’t anything wrong with making a major health change, for many people giant overhauls are simply overwhelming.
However, even with small changes, it may be difficult to determine where you should start. Here are five easy diet changes you can make to achieve better health.
Substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate
If you have a sweet tooth and often find yourself needing a chocolate fix during the day, reach for dark chocolate treats instead of ones made with milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is full of flavanols and polyphenols which act as antioxidants. Flavanols also help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and brain, and help make blood platelets less sticky, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Adding milk to chocolate negates all of these beneficial effects. In fact, even having a glass of milk with your dark chocolate is counterproductive.
Only 47% of Americans eat breakfast daily. This is unfortunate because studies have shown that eating breakfast helps improve cognitive function and focus while skipping breakfast leads to overeating throughout the day. If you’re in a rush or very busy in the morning, try a nutritious snack bar that you can take on-the-go. If you have time to make breakfast, make sure it’s a balanced, nutritious meal that contains vital nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, and calcium.
Drink more water
Two-thirds of your body is made up of water, so it should come as no surprise that water is important to health. Your body transports waste products in and out of your cells, while your kidneys and liver flush those waste products and other toxins out. However, this process can only work properly and efficiently if you are well hydrated. If you don’t regularly drink water, try adding a glass of water before every meal as a new routine. Drinking a glass of water before every meal adds nearly 70 gallons of water to your body over the course of a year.
Eat more fiber
You can’t have a healthy diet without fiber. Dietary fiber, which is the part of plant foods your body can't digest or absorb, plays a vital role in reducing blood pressure and inflammation while helping to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and promote weight loss. Additionally, high-fiber foods like Step One products, are more filling than regular foods, so you stay fuller longer. Oats, almonds and apples are great sources of fiber. To increase your fiber intake, try substituting your regular snacks for high-fiber options. Try substituting an apple for your potato chips or a handful of almonds for your M&Ms.
No matter which diet change you plan to make, the fact that you’re making a change is something you should be proud of. Because, bit by bit, your health is improving.
This week I encourage you to incorporate one new healthy change into your diet. Whether it’s drinking more water or changing out your snack for something health promoting, the small sustained change you make today will reap many rewards down the road.
Achieving health Is a journey. And every journey starts with step one.