Small Diet Changes that Yield Big Results

 by Mary Avant


Not everyone has the willpower for huge, sweeping lifestyle changes. But the good news is that when it comes to diets, the most successful regimens often require only small changes to see big results. And it's often those who make these small alterations to their everyday routine that see more lasting results. Give these eight little diet changes a try and watch your waistline shrink as your overall health increases.

1. Take the Stairs

Every day when you go to work, you're probably faced with the decision: Stairs or elevator? Well, the answer should be simple -- always opt for the stairs. This small change can burn up to nine calories a minute. But that's not all you can do. In general, you should try to walk more often every day. Try getting off the bus or subway a stop early and walk the rest of the home. Are you meeting a friend for lunch nearby? Walk instead of driving.

Related: 6 Ways to Burn More Calories by Walking

2. Whole Milk No More

If you're a big dairy drinker, this simple change can save you a lot of calories. Whenever you pour milk over your cereal in the morning or drink a glass before bed at night, opting for one- or two-percent milk can save up to 45 calories per cup. But don't fear the fat in dairy completely, as long as it's in moderation. And if you're lactose intolerant, you can look into some of the non-dairy substitutes in the list below.

Related: Which Type of Milk (or Nondairy Milk) Is Best?

3. Choose Lean Meats

Just because you're trying to stay healthy and shed a few pounds doesn't mean you have to cut meats from your diet. All you need to do is go for lean cuts -- such as sirloin, flank or round steak -- instead of fattier cuts such as ribeye. This can cut a lot of calories -- up to 91 calories per four-ounce serving, to be exact -- not to mention unnecessary saturated fat as well.

Related: 15 of the Best Lean Animal Proteins

4. Choose Your Carbs Carefully

Not all carbs deserve the bad reputation they get. Complex carbs and carbs found in foods rich in fiber -- such as whole grain breads and pastas -- are great for fueling your body and giving you the energy to get through the day. However, carbs that are overly starchy, such as potatoes, and empty calories -- such as those found in candies and sodas -- should only be consumed in moderate amounts (if at all).

Related: 16 Diet-Friendly Healthful Carbs

5. Don't Eat From the Bag

When you want to unwind in front of the TV after a long day at work, it's easy to grab your favorite bag of chips and munch away. But be careful: This can cost you a load of calories. Instead, measure out the serving you're aiming for, and then put the bag back in the cabinet and out of reach, since this will help curb your desire for more.

6. Start With Soup or Salad

Eating a water- or broth-based soup or a fiber-filled salad before your meal helps fill you up, meaning you eat less of your entree -- which is often more calorie-rich than this type of appetizer. Just don't choose a creamy soup like clam chowder, which adds on a ton more calories, and opt for a low-fat or calorie-free salad dressing or just plain balsamic vinegar.

7. Bring on the Produce

Not only are most fruits and veggies low in calories and high in nutrients, but they can also encourage you to eat smaller amounts of other not-so-healthy foods. Try packing your plate full of different colored fruits and vegetables, and you won't have as much room for other items that are higher in calories, fat and bad carbs. Plus, you'll be less likely to go for seconds.

Related: 10 Sneaky Ways to Eat More Vegetables

8. Don't Drink Your Calories

Sure, every once in a while it's OK to indulge in your favorite soda or order an early morning latte. But if you're trying to lose weight, one of the easiest ways to cut calories is to limit the amount "liquid calories" you consume. Liquids don't fill you up and satisfy hunger the way whole foods do, so it's best to opt for calorie-free choices (think: water, tea and black coffee) when you're thirsty. If you need to indulge, order a latte with skim milk or go for a diet soda. But again, moderation is key with diet sodas.

What Do YOU Think?

Are you trying to eat healthier? Or trying to lose weight? How many of these dietary changes have you incorporated into your healthy lifestyle? Which ones on this list were new to you? Do you think you'll give any of them a try? Share your suggestions and questions in the comments below and join the conversation!


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