Changing the way you eat is a significant challenge, and there are no shortcuts that take out the hard work or commitment involved to improve health and get results. Especially if your goal is weight loss, adopting a new diet plan can be a frustrating and difficult process. However, taking things step by step and focusing on a series of small, gradual changes is one strategy that can make a big difference. After adjusting to one or two modifications, take on new ones, and continue that way until a healthy eating plan is second nature.
Begin a new diet plan with substitution. HelpGuide.org suggests you notice what you eat every day, pick out the items that are highest in fat and calories and lowest in nutrients and then switch them for healthier alternatives. Replace soda with water, dessert with fresh fruit and cheeseburgers with whole-grain vegetable or deli meat sandwiches.
Eat a variety of healthy foods each day, even if the rest of your diet isn't perfect. Eating nutritious foods from every main group can help reduce cravings for unhealthy items and encourage better choices. Try following the U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid, which suggests items from the five main groups of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
Keep portions in check, especially when they're self-serve. At each meal, you have the power to control how much food you eat and how much you save for later. If a restaurant serves up a big portion, take some food home for later or simply stop eating after you're not hungry anymore. If you're making your own meals, HelpGuide.org recommends serving them in smaller plates or bowls and using visual cues as a guide, such as making a meat serving about the size of a deck of cards and making a serving of oil or dressing about the size of a matchbook.
Make it a long-term goal to meet specific nutritional guidelines for your activity level and lifestyle. Registered dietitians at the Mayo Clinic recommend that healthy adults get about 55 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates, with a focus on complex carbs such as whole grains and beans. An additional 20 percent of calories should come from protein, especially lean, low-fat and plant-based foods like yogurt, soy and seafood. Aim for about 25 percent of daily calories from healthy sources of fat, such as olive oil and nuts.