Easy Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Make Today

There’s a reason why the word “die” is in the word “diet,” and it’s because diets can be really, really hard. (I mean, that’s our guess, when it comes to the etymology.) But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. This isn’t about going from 0 to 60—it’s more about going from 0 to a reasonable 45. You’re making progress, yes, but you’re not burning through gas.

There are a bunch of changes to be made that put the “less” in “effortless” when it comes to dieting—some are additions, some are swaps. Here, we consulted with Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., the expert nutritionist who started the brand Nutritious Life, about the easiest but most effective methods for bettering your diet. Remember, as you embark on this effort, it’s more productive to focus on the foods you’re introducing into your routine rather than on the foods you’re removing. In the end, being healthy isn’t about being hungry. And, with Glassman’s guidance, you don’t have to be.

‘Go green,’ two times a day

 We know we sound like your mom, but eat more veggies. Greens, like broccoli and spinach, are brimming with fiber, which assists with digestion,  as well as vitamins and minerals. Plus, water-packed veggies can help with satiation, so you feel full. Glassman recommends, “Add broccoli to your morning eggs, spinach to your sammie, and fresh peppers to go along with your afternoon nuts for a snack.”

Ditch refined carbs

What are refined carbs? We’re glad you asked. They’re plant-based foods whose whole grains have been extracted during processing. For example, white bread and white rice are refined carbs. Go “au natural” for eats that haven’t been stripped of their nutrients, because who needs a bunch of empty calories? Glassman recommends, “Swap white rice out for brown rice, or add an ancient grain such as farro to your diet.”

Say no to soda

 OK, OK. We can skip the lecture. There is no reason to drink soda, including includes diet soda. Do you need the caffeine? Go with coffee or tea. Or, if you’re craving bubbles and sips of sweetness, Glass recommends seltzer with lemon wedges or flavoring water with chunks of fruit. 

Good fats are your friend

 This one is about making swaps, from bad fats to good fats. Bodies need fat to function—it’s a source of energy that assists with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. But fats aren’t created equal. There are trans fats (bad) and there are monounsaturated fats (good) and polyunsaturated fats (good). Glassman’s tip? Eat healthy fats like avocado, hemp seeds, and walnuts.

Snack on whole, not packaged, foods 

 Snacks are some of the best “meals” of the day, but it’s important that your snacks be nutritious and not a source of bad fat, sugar and other no-no’s. Sure, things like candy and chips can be a welcome salty or sweet treat around 3 p.m. but, well, you know… Instead, “skip packaged snacks, for the most part,” Glassman says. “Real food at snack time always wins. Think hummus and veggies or nuts and yogurt.”

Go for pro (protein, that is)

Protein is a macronutrient and it’s crucial to your diet—it helps with muscle-building and keeps your “furnace” burning. That said, this isn’t about eating an 8-ounce steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s about introducing the fuel into your routine. “Incorporate protein into every meal and snack,” Glassman says. “Make sure to consume adequate plant protein as well, like nuts and seeds.”

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

The importance of water can’t be overemphasized. It’s ensures your body functions like an efficient, fat-burning machine. Plus, it’s been proven that people can confuse hunger and thirst, so when you think you’re hungry, try drinking a glass (or two) of water to see how your brain and stomach responds. Glassman recommends, “Hydrate, because drinking enough water helps with your metabolism and energy levels.”

Elizabeth Quinn Brown is a writer based in the East Village who accessorizes her (pilates) spandex with wedges. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.