“I’ve made the commitment to start building healthy habits, but I am so overwhelmed with all of the stuff I should be doing/eating/NOT doing. How can I just get started!?” 

The New Year settled in and people everywhere made a commitment to start adopting healthier habits. You may be one of the planners that had their game plan drawn out and in hand as the ball dropped or you may be one of the masses that made the commitment, but isn’t quite sure how to just get started. Nutrition isn’t always “one size fits all”. It may be a series of trials to discover what works for you. Here are a few tips that might be worth test-driving.

1. Start with simple changes.

Begin adding fresh or frozen vegetables to your favorite whole-wheat pasta dish to add volume without adding heavy calories. Not only are you adding nutrient dense foods, you are reducing the amount of high calorie pasta you will consume because of the added vegetables. I will typically aim for a 1:1 ratio of pasta and vegetables and use a lower fat or calorie sauce. This little trick can turn one serving size of pasta into three servings with the added veggies!

Replace your favorite yogurt with a Greek version. Greek yogurt has gained notoriety in recent years for its high protein content and is a bandwagon that makes sense to jump on. You can easily replace your go-to yogurt with an equally delectable Greek version or you can by plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit for an even healthier and lower sugar version. Adding fresh (or frozen) fruit and sweetening your plain Greek yogurt with Stevia will reduce the calories while boosting your benefits from the vitamins and minerals a higher (and fresher) fruit content serves PLUS help you get that serving of fruit (and dairy) into your daily diet. This would also be a great way to incorporate your Kuli Kuli Moringa powder!

Purchase 100% whole-wheat bread in place of the nutritionally void white bread. Make sure the loaf you buy is 100% Whole Wheat, not a split top wheat version. You may even try sprouted grain bread to boost you nutrition intake. Your sprouted grain breads can usually be found in the frozen section of your grocers “health food” section. Always remember that bread is typically ONE slice for ONE serving!

carrots-155715_1280Substitute your proteins, mainly meat, with lower fat versions. Replace burger with a 93/7 version or even 99/1 ground turkey. Start to use white chicken breast in your favorite meals or instead of thighs. Buy lean cuts of beef with minimal marbling. Try adding salmon and fish to weekly meals for a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Replacing high fat proteins with a lower fat version will not only help you cut calories it will cut saturated fat in the diet to benefit cardiovascular health! Double bonus.

2. Portions are primary.

Recording every morsel that goes into your mouth may seem cumbersome and challenging in busy lives. Don’t let the thought of journaling your diet deter you from making healthier habits. If you’re just starting out, build the habit of consuming correct portions first. Beginning your health transformation by becoming aware of correct portions will help you reduce calories and fat consumption by default – leading to weight loss. Read packages and labels and use your measuring cups and spoons instead of guesstimating portions. Buy a cheap scale to weigh your meat portions. You will eventually become a master of guesstimating and may be able to retire the measuring cups and spoons to their rightful spots in the back of that messy utensil drawer. Once you have become comfortable with portion control, try an easy dietary tracking app to help you track your calorie intake to make sure you are staying within an acceptable range and continue your health transformation!USDA_MyPlate_green

Portion control alone may not get you to the finish line, but it will initiate weight loss and help you become aware of the amount of food that you are consuming, in turn reducing consumed calories and fat. This will help you start the weight loss and begin your healthy transformation.

3. Be a Boy Scout (or Girl Scout) and BE PREPARED!

Prepare for meals (especially that “at work lunch”) ahead of time. The last thing you need is to be derailed by a hectic morning of feeding the children and getting them on the bus. Plan and prepare your meals ahead of time, maybe the night before, after the kids have gone to bed. Invest in a $3 box of freezer bags to have “emergency” meals on hand to grab and go. Keep healthy snacks, nuts, apples, or your favorite flavor of Kuli Kuli Moringa bar, on hand at your desk or in your tote. This will help you to stay on track and keep you from driving through the easy fast food joint to satiate your hunger. Keep a favorite low fat and calorie frozen TV dinner in your freezer for those unpredictable mornings (although they should NOT be the foundation of your new health plan) to grab on your way out the door (5 minutes late). Make a weight loss survival guide and plan for every situation. It will ease your mind and come to your aid in a pinch!

Overall, have patience! You are not living in a reality television show, isolated from life’s obstacles. Transforming your diet will be a series of ups and downs. Taking weight off takes time and perseverance wins in the end. Having realistic expectations for your health transformation will help you successfully navigate the challenges you may face and keep you focused on the end goal.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.