Making small changes to what and how you eat can help improve your health.
That’s because small diet changes are easier to follow and sustain.
Here are some common eating challenges along with examples of the nutritional nudges I often recommend:
1-I Eat Too Many Sweets
Sweets can be addictive because the ultra-processing makes you keep coming back for more.
These foods end up stimulating your appetite instead of satisfying it.
Rather than banning all sweets from one’s diet, I encourage patients to take better control of the many “eat now” food cues that surround them at home.
Here, I nudge patients to decrease the enticing sweets that surround them at home by keeping these foods either off the counter, out of sight on a high shelf, in the freezer or preferably out of the house.
It’s also important to find some healthier alternatives so you don’t feel deprived.
Examples may include portion-controlled frozen treats, sweet pear or apple slices or homemade energy bites.
You can still enjoy sweet treats now and then for special occasions but being around them 24/7 is often too difficult to resist.
If you’re looking for a way to take control of your sweet cravings, check out the new book, Sugarless: A 7-Step Plan to Uncover Hidden Sugars, Curb Your Cravings and Conquer Your Addiction, written by Dr. Nicole Avena.
2-I Skip Meals to Save Calories
Skipping meals can be a setup for overeating later in the day.
That’s because when you’re hungry, you end up eating whatever is easiest and most convenient – often not the healthiest of foods.
My patients are sometimes surprised to hear how skipping meals can sabotage one’s healthy eating and weight loss efforts.
Instead, I nudge patients to eat regular meals throughout the day and for some, planned snacks, so they don’t go hungry.
If you’re a busy person with a full schedule, this may involve identifying some healthy lunch and snack ideas that are easy to assemble and grab-and-go.
This takes some planning ahead but is worth your time and effort.
3-I Don’t Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables
If you don’t eat enough of these good-for-you foods, don’t think that turning to a fruit and vegetable supplement is a good alternative.
Eating the actual plant-based foods has so many health benefits, such as helping to lower your risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
This may be as simple as adding berries to your yogurt or oatmeal, spinach or dark greens to your sandwiches or side vegetable salad to your dinner meal.
Vegetables and fruits have lots of water and fiber which helps to lower the calorie density of your meal.
This helps you feel full on fewer calories.
If you would like more ideas on how to feel full on fewer calories and build your own healthy eating meal plan in your quest to get healthier and better manage weight, check out my latest self-help book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You!
Robert Kushner, MD