If you’re looking to lose weight, like most people in the United States are, then you should listen up. One problem with New Year’s resolutions is that people try to make too radical of changes too quickly. The way to really change your lifestyle for the better is through small and healthier changes gradually.
Think you eat well? The truth is, most of us could do a lot better. Some 87% of American adults fall short on the recommended intake of veggies, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 92% of us are missing the mark on whole grains. But you don’t need radical meal makeovers to improve your diet-just some subtle, strategic ingredient switcheroos at every meal. “Small ways to fill in those nutritional gaps can make a huge difference over weeks and months,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, author of Slim Down Now.
Try: Low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries and unsalted nuts
Benefits: Greek yogurt has nearly double the protein of regular yogurt (9 grams vs. 17 grams per 6-ounce serving) for greater staying power; fresh berries add antioxidants and fiber; and nuts provide healthy fats that slow the release of natural sugars into the bloodstream. Plus you’ll drop nearly 12 grams of added sugar-and all for the about the same number of calories.
Try: Hard-boiled egg and avocado on a sprouted whole-grain English muffin
Benefits: Sprouted grains have more protein, fiber, and micronutrients (such as folate, vitamin C, and essential fatty acids), and fewer carbs than plain English muffins. Can’t find sprouted? Go for whole grain (just make sure whole wheat or another whole grain is the first ingredient). Adding a quarter of an avocado provides healthy fats so you’ll feel more satisfied. Boiling the egg instead of frying it in butter eliminates heart-clogging saturated fats. Boil a bunch at once and keep them in the fridge so you can prep this meal quickly in the a.m.
Try: Veggie avocado omelet with one egg and three egg whites
Benefits: You’ll pack in more protein-three egg whites have nearly 10 grams of protein, compared to 6.3 grams for a whole egg-while being cholesterol conscious. An omelet is a great way to sneak veggies into breakfast-try spinach, mushroom, and bell pepper. Plus, you get healthy monounsaturated fat from the avocado (which is also high in potassium and a natural de-bloater). Eliminating the cheese saves 115 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat per ounce.
Try: Homemade smoothie with 1 cup fresh fruit, a handful of veggies (kale, spinach, celery), 1 Tbsp. almond butter, and 1 cup almond milk or Greek yogurt
Benefits: Making your own smoothie means more veggies and less fruit-so you’ll get fewer calories and less sugar, along with plenty of filling fiber. The almond butter provides good fat, which makes you feel satisfied, and which you need in order to absorb many of the antioxidants from the fruits and veggies.
Try: Homemade oatmeal: Blend together 1/4 cup rolled oats with 1/4 cup unsweetened whey protein powder; add 1/4 cup hot coconut milk (from the dairy aisle); top with a small apple, sliced or chopped, and 1 tsp. cinnamon
Benefits: You’ll ditch the added sugars of the pre-packaged stuff and, by adding protein powder, actually displace some of the oatmeal, trading quick-burning carbs for slow-burning protein. Coconut milk, besides being delicious, adds good fat (medium-chain triglycerides) that boosts metabolism and good cholesterol; the apple provides vitamin C and over 4 grams of fiber; and cinnamon has many health perks, including that it slows stomach emptying and improves insulin sensitivity.
Next: Instead of: Chef’s salad with bacon and cheese
Try: Green salad with salmon, tuna, or sardines
Benefits: The word “salad” doesn’t guarantee nutrition. Swap out the bacon and cheese for fish. It provides the same protein-or more-and adds omega-3 fatty acids, which boost mood, help reduce inflammation in the body, and may help with weight loss (and a 2014 analysis found that we don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids in our diets). Second best choice is grilled chicken, another lean protein that will save fat and calories over bacon and cheese.
es from Cornell University show that people who begin a meal with broth-based soup get fuller faster and eat less overall.