There is an unending stream of news about the dangers of eating too much sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. The result is that more people than ever are actively trying to find ways to eat healthier. A recent study found that one-third of Americans actively try to maintain a healthy diet, and most people know that eating lots of processed foods isn’t good for them. It can be difficult to break habits.
Luckily, there are easy ways to start eating a healthier diet without completely overhauling your lifestyle or spending hours in the kitchen daily. Even small changes can impact your health, so check out these five simple swaps for a healthier diet and see how much better you will feel instantly!
Swap out grains for vegetables
One of the biggest differences between a healthy diet and a diet loaded with processed foods is the number of vegetables you eat. It is recommended that we eat at least two servings of vegetables per day (one for children), but many people eat far less than that. So, one of the easiest things you can do to improve your diet is to swap out grains for vegetables where you can.
For example, a sandwich filled with vegetables and a small amount of meat will provide you with far more vitamins and minerals than a sandwich made with high-carbohydrate bread. One helpful rule of thumb is to have at least half of your daily meals vegetables.
Add more greens to your diet.
Another simple swap you can make is adding more greens to your diet. Low-calorie leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, and kale contain vitamins and minerals. You can add them to salads, sandwiches, soups, and just about any other dish to instantly make it healthier. You might be surprised that a typical American diet (or ADA) is low in dark, leafy greens.
Studies show that eating more greens can reduce the risk of many diseases, including some types of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Greens are also a great source of fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive system.
Eat more beans
Beans are an excellent source of proteins and fiber and are also very low in calories. They are also incredibly cheap, so you can eat a lot of them! Studies from the National Library of Medicine show that a few servings of beans a week reduce the risk of heart disease by 10% and death by 15%. Moreover, beans are linked to a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. A diet rich in proteins is essential for good health, so a bean diet provides an easy way to ensure your diet is complete.
Swap out your cereal for oatmeal
Cereal is a favorite breakfast food for many people, but it is far from healthy. Many brands of ready-made cereal contain large amounts of sugar and other ingredients that are not good for your body. Cereal is also extremely high in calories, making it a poor breakfast choice for those trying to lose weight. On the other hand, oatmeal is a much better option. It is high in fiber and calories and very low in sugar. Oatmeal is also rich in magnesium, a mineral in which many people are deficient.
Cut back on the meat.
Meat is essential to any diet, but you can’t eat a huge steak every night. Eating too much meat is one of the easiest ways to make your diet unbalanced and unhealthy. You should eat a moderate amount of meat and vary what type of meat you eat to ensure you are getting all the necessary nutrients.
There is a lack of iron in most people’s diets, but red meat is a great source of iron. Research by the National Institute of Health shows that many people are low in vitamin B12, which is essential for a healthy nervous system. However, many types of meat are high in B12, so you should consume moderate amounts of meat regularly to avoid becoming deficient in this essential vitamin.
When making changes to your diet, it can be easy to get carried away and overthink it. Remembering that a healthy diet is about making small, gradual changes over time is important. It’s not about following a strict diet and cutting out everything you love. While it is important not to eat too much sugar, salt, or unhealthy fats, you will make yourself miserable if you try to eliminate any of these from your diet.
It’s also important to remember to make time for yourself when trying to eat healthier. Stress will make you crave unhealthy foods, so try to relax and take some time out each day.