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Wellness

How to Make Sustainable Improvements to Your Diet

If you’re anything like me, you most likely want to make better choices when it comes to food, but maybe you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’ve tried but the changes you’ve made didn’t stick. Especially during this tough year, I have fallen into some not so great patterns when it comes to my diet. However, I have discovered a dietitian through TikTok that creates content regarding healthy eating. Based on her tips, I have recently been making changes that I hope will stick. Here are some tips to help you make some sustainable changes.

 

1. Say no to fad diets!

Fad diets have been around for decades. They promise fast results when it comes to health and weight loss, but they are not good for the long term. You try them out and the second you stop, you revert back to old habits. One of the current fad diets is keto, which requires that you cut out sugar and carbs completely. Though many people do lose weight quickly with this diet, it causes a spike in cholesterol and is not healthy for the long term. This is a common trend with fad diets. They do not work! Stay away!!!

 

2. Don’t cut out. Add MORE!

There is a widespread myth that the way to eat better is to cut out foods that aren’t good for you. This makes sense on the surface, but why would you take away the foods you love to eat? Instead of cutting out carbs, add vegetables and proteins to that plate of pasta. Add broccoli to your macaroni and cheese. Add blueberries and walnuts to your morning pancakes. Focus on including more vegetables, proteins, and fiber-rich foods. By including more variety and substance into your diet, you can still enjoy the things you love to eat without feeling guilty. It is unrealistic to try to remove the things you like to eat. You are allowed to love what you eat!

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3. Embrace the RAINBOW!

By including foods with a large variety of (natural) colors into your daily diet, you are ensuring that you are taking in a more diverse amount of vitamins and nutrients. This will also make sure you are getting the most benefits out of what you are eating. Below are the colors and some of the benefits that they can have.

 

Red: heart-healthy, decrease the risk of prostate cancer

Yellow: protects vision and skin, supports immunity

Green: fights against cancer-causing compounds

Purple: delays cellular aging, supports cognitive health

 

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4. Don’t eliminate, SWAP

Instead of restricting the things you eat, you can make small swaps to make healthier choices. Swap out white bread for whole wheat for more fiber. Switch butter with olive oil for a healthier fat. Change out soda for sparkling flavored water to decrease processed sugars. Go for beans instead of red meat for a healthier protein. These swaps do not have to be all of the time, but by opting for a more healthy option most of the time, you can eat what you want and learn to make healthier choices slowly. Eating better is a marathon, not a sprint. To make sustainable, long-lasting changes, you have to do so slowly and teach yourself how to make better choices.

 

5. Stop eating when you feel full

Do not force yourself to eat more than you are hungry for! This is so important. It seems obvious, but a lot of us tend to overeat just to clear a plate. It is okay to have leftovers. It is okay to not finish your food. Your body knows when you have had enough. Learn to listen to your body when you start to feel full and stop eating!

 

6. Get creative!

I know for me, eating salad is boring. However, there are ways to make them more interesting! Season your vegetables. Add nuts or dried fruits. Throw in some feta or gorgonzola. Add healthy proteins like chicken or fish. Include tortilla strips for extra crunch! By adding a variety of flavors and textures to your salads, they become exciting and enjoyable. Another way to eat more veggies is in a wrap. Load up a tortilla with lettuce and a variety of other vegetables, add some seasoning and balsamic vinegar, maybe even some grilled chicken, and you’ve got a delicious and simple way to enjoy vegetables. It may sound unnecessary, but trust me, if you hate eating vegetables, this is a good way to make them more enjoyable.

 

7. Stop focusing on your scale

Weight is not a good indication of your health. Health should be based on the way you feel, physically and mentally. If you are eating the right nutrients and working on your mental relationship with food and your health, the number on the scale does not matter. It is very easy to fall into the trap of worrying about how much you weigh. To improve your health, take time to appreciate yourself as you are, and learn ways to make better choices that help you feel good. You should never feel guilty for enjoying a piece of cake or a delicious pizza. If one salad won’t make you lose weight, then one cookie won’t make you gain. Love yourself. Eat what you want. Learn to make better choices that will benefit you in the long run.

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All tips in this article are derived from the TikTok account @stephgrassodietitian. Check her out for more in-depth information and ideas to improve your relationship with food!

Kallan Doyon

U Conn '23

Kallan is a senior at the University of Connecticut studying Psychology, with minors in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sociology. She plans to pursue her Masters in Social Work after this year. She loves writing! Like, genuinely love it, and rediscovered her love of writing just recently!
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