Making small changes for a big impact

Awhile back, I was chatting about a friend about my new way of eating. I jokingly said "I am a bit obsessed!" and she quickly agreed. I was a taken aback by her hearty agreement, since I really was kidding when I mentioned my obsession. She pointed out that the change in my diet was so radical that she couldn't imagine doing what I had done. I protested, saying that the changes to my way of eating were not radical at all. But in retrospect, she was right.

Since that time, I have wondered how I managed to get to where I am today. In truth, I still struggle, particularly when we are out of town or celebrating, but otherwise, I stick to my eating plan fairly religiously. How then, given my history with "diets" and my generally laziness where food is concerned, have I been able to change so radically and more importantly, remained so committed and happy about it? I am fairly certain my success has to do with making incremental changes.

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was the size of my ass. It took me 40 years to get to where I was at, so I reasoned that it would take quite awhile to get myself to a point of good health. Once I came to peace with the fact that living a healthy lifestyle was a long-term proposition, making changes to my diet became easier. I came to realize that eating healthy is something that I have to do for the rest of my life, so finding ways to make the change sustainable was of utmost importance.

In looking at my then current diet, I decided to find small ways where I could make an immediate, lasting impact and worry about the "big" changes later (little did I know that the "big" change is really just an accumulation of little changes). I changed one habit at a time, slowly over the course of a number of months, so that there was no huge shock to my body or to my psyche.

Here is a list of small changes that I have made to my diet. While incomplete, you might find some easy solutions for yourself or a gaping whole in my plan. Either way, please let me know what you think. I love to hear feedback.

Small Changes for a Big Impact
  1. Read food labels
  2. Eliminate white foods from your diet (a biggie with a large caveat, but a good way to get started)
  3. Change your bread to whole grain, or better still, sprouted grain
  4. If it contains HFCS, trans-fats or MSG, don't eat it
  5. Incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet
  6. Replace sugar with agave syrup or other low-gi sweetener of your choice
  7. Give up soda (try iced tea or water with lemon instead)
  8. Limit the sodium content of processed foods to no more than 5% per serving
  9. Look for healthier alternatives to your favorite foods so that you don't feel deprived (for instance, my kids eat Kashi TLC bars instead of NutriGrain bars and we all enjoy natural peanut butter instead of Jif or Kraft)
  10. Cut out the junk foods (chips, crackers, candy, etc.)
  11. Replace sweetened yogurt with plain yogurt that you sweeten yourself (try 100% fruit jam or fresh seasonal fruit)
  12. If you can easily make it yourself, don't buy processed (for instance, seasoning mixes or bread crumbs)


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