Are you focused on eating healthier these days? If you said yes, you are not alone. An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and spend about $33 billion on weight loss products and programs.
You don’t have to look far to see fad diets claiming (and sometimes working) to shed pounds quickly. However, these diets can leave you feeling hungry and deprived. Plus, most people who try a fad diet usually gain the weight back within a year—leaving nearly two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese.
According to the Pew Research Center, about 73 percent of Americans say they are very or fairly focused on healthy and nutritious eating. Some 58 percent say they probably should be eating healthier on most days. Eating healthier does not necessarily mean that you have to feel like you are dieting. It shouldn’t feel that way at all!
Many experts believe it is best to lose weight slowly to keep pounds off permanently. For most people, dieting does not work long term. Instead, try to focus on a healthy lifestyle. Over time, you may notice that you weigh less and most likely feel better, too.
All food and beverages choices matter.
Simple things you can do to improve your diet
Focus on variety and quality of food by:
- Choosing foods from all five food groups. Avoid restricting yourself from foods.
- Making simple swaps. For example, swap sugary beverages for water.
- Filling half of your plate with veggies and fruits.
- Making at least half of your grains whole grains.
- Trying plant proteins like beans and legumes.
- Using low-fat and fat-free dairy products.
- Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids by eating fish and nuts.
- Eating more plant-based foods and fish, and less foods from land-dwelling animals.
Pay attention to the amount of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars in food by:
- Limiting your consumption of foods with high amounts of added sugars.
- Choosing packaged and prepared foods carefully (pay attention to sodium on the label).
- Replacing foods that are high in saturated fat with healthier options.
- Avoiding trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils.
Build habits that support healthy eating and understand the foods you are putting into your body by:
- Watching and/or tracking your calories (start by understanding your daily calorie range).
- Focusing on portion control (start with serving sizes).
- Cooking and eating at home when you can (you can control what is in your food).
- Comparing nutrition information on package labels when choosing foods (watch out for deceiving labels, too).
- Avoiding late-night snack
- Planning meals ahead.
Making healthy choices part of your lifestyle may help you avoid dieting. Even if the tips above seem like a lot, start small and build up over time. Even small changes or swaps can add up to big changes.
American Heart Association. (2016, March 9). Understanding the American obesity epidemic. Retrieved April 2018 from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/WeightManagement/Obesity/Understanding-the-American-Obesity-Epidemic_UCM_461650_Article.jsp#.Ws4b-i7wapo.
American Heart Association. How to reduce sodium. Retrieved April 2018 from https://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/how_to_reduce_sodium.
MyPlate. (2018, January 26). Build a healthy eating style. Retrieved April 2018 from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate.
Pew Research Center. (2016, December 13). What’s on your table? How America’s diet has changed over the decades. Retrieved April 2018 from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/12/13/whats-on-your-table-how-americas-diet-has-changed-over-the-decades/.
Yautz, Laura. What you should know about fat. Retrieved April 2018 from http://www.upmcmyhealthmatters.com/what-you-should-know-about-fat/.