Easy Changes to Your Diet

May 14, 2014

This week I bring to you another interns perspective. Nick Schlies describes easy ways to make changes in your diet that go a long way. 

Keeping a healthy, well-balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but for many people it is easier said than done. We all develop our own eating habits growing up and it’s no simple task to change something that has years of reinforcement. That being said, the best way I have found to transition toward a well-balanced diet is to start with the easy changes that also have a large impact.

1. 100% Whole-Wheat Products
When I decided to start eating healthier a few years ago, the first change I made was to switch to whole-wheat bread products. I grew up eating white bread and always despised the thought of eating 100% whole-wheat, but I learned in a nutrition class that refined wheat products are simple carbohydrates (as apposed to complex carbohydrates) and are just as unhealthy and nutrition lacking as sugar. My logic was: why should I waste stomach space on simple carbohydrates that don’t taste nearly as good as a candy bar?

Only two weeks after I made the switch to 100% whole-wheat I was accustomed to the taste of it and began to enjoy eating all types of whole-wheat, whole grain products including bagels, tortillas, pasta, brown rice, and oatmeal. Not only is eating whole grain great for my short- and long-term health, but it’s also an environmentally friendly choice because whole-grain products require fewer resources to produce than refined wheat products.

  100% Whole Wheat Bread (1 slice) Refined White Bread ( 1 slice)
Calories (kcal) 71 75
Fat (g) 0.99 0.89
Cholesterol (mg) 0 0
Sodium (mg) 129 137
Sugar (g) 1.29 1.42
Protein (g) 3.53 2.56
Fiber (g) 1.7 0.8
Nutrients: Ca, Fe, Mg, P, K, Zn (mg) 46, 0.70, 21, 60, 72, 0.50 73, 1..01, 7, 29, 32 0.24

2. Switching to Non-Fat Milk
My next step was to switch from whole milk to non-fat milk. Just like 100% whole-wheat bread, the thought of it seemed outrageous to me, but once I learned about how harmful saturated animal fats are I was motivated to make the switch. Once again, it only took a couple weeks for me to get used to the taste and enjoy non-fat milk just as much as I enjoyed whole milk my entire life.

  Non- Fat Milk (1 cup) 2% Milk (1 cup) Whole Milk (1 cup)
Calories (kcal) 91 125 149
Fat (g) 0.61 4.7 7.93
Cholesterol (mg) 5 20 24
Sodium (mg) 130 127 105
Sugar (g) 12.3 12.18 12.3
Protein (g) 8.75 8.53 7.69
Fiber(g) 0 0 0
Nutrients: Ca, Fe, Mg, P, K, Zn (mg) 316, 0.12, 37, 255, 419, 1 314, 0.12, 34, 245, 397, 0.98 276, 0.07, 24, 205, 322, 0.90

3) Fruits for Snacks
I then chose to start snacking primarily on fresh fruits instead of sweets. This was a bit of a tougher change for me because I have quite the sweet tooth, but fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges made the transition easy because they are very satiating fruits due to their high fiber content (and they taste great). Eventually, it became second nature to go for a banana when I wanted a snack, and if I ever wanted something sweet all I had to do was put a little bit of peanut butter or Nutella on one to satisfy my craving.

These three steps were just what I needed to start eating healthier. They showed me how easy it can be to make healthy changes to my diet and they made tougher alterations in the future seem much more doable. Different steps may work better for others, but in the end proper education and realistic goals were the deciding factor in creating a healthy diet for myself. I hope my story can help you on your journey toward a well-balanced diet and lifestyle! 

 

  Banana Orange Thin Mint Cookie (4)
Calories (kcal) 105 59 161
Fat (g) 0.39 0.36 7.74
Cholesterol (mg) 0 0 0
Sodium (mg) 1 0 122
Sugar (g)

14.43 naturally occuring

14.39 naturally occuring 10.24
Protein (g) 1.29 1.26 1.44
Fiber (g) 3.1 3 0.7
Nutrients: Ca, Fe, Mg, P, K, Zn (mg) 6, 0.31, 32, 26, 422, 0.18 48, 0.11, 12, 21, 217, 0.07  0.96, 8, 24, 30, 0.18

 

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