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Simple Diet Changes That Pay Big Rewards

If you're juggling a full load of family and career responsibilities, it can be difficult to devote much time or thought to your diet. These are simple and effective changes you can make to the foods you eat and the way you dine that will soon have you looking and feeling your best.

Change The Foods You Eat

1. Enjoy more vegetables and fruits. Get most of your calories from plant-based foods. Aim for at least six servings per day. Fill up half your plate at every meal with fresh produce.

2. Eat plenty of fiber. Whole grains are another great choice. They also have fiber and nutrients that will make each calorie go further. Plus, they help you feel full and resist junk foods.

3. Focus on whole foods. Skip the processed foods in favor of fresh ingredients. You'll enjoy better tasting meals and cut back on added sugars and sodium in one easy step.

4. Serve fish. Lean protein gives you more energy. Put fish on the menu at least twice a week. You can grill it in a few minutes for an easy dinner.

5. Switch to healthy fats. The kind of fats you consume is just as important as the total amount. Dip your bread in extra virgin olive oil instead of butter.

6. Start with soup. Soup fills you up so you eat fewer calories.

Change The Way You Eat

1. Control portion sizes. You can eat your favorite treats as long as you practice moderation. Eat a single piece of gourmet chocolate instead of a whole donut.

2. Schedule more meals and snacks. Eating more frequently throughout the day keeps your metabolism primed. It also helps prevent hunger pains that could sabotage your diet.

3. Start with a healthy breakfast. Refuel every morning. Grab a yogurt drink or whip up a breakfast bean burrito.

4. Eat more slowly. Dining at a leisurely pace gives your body time to tell you when it has had enough. Put your knife and fork down between each bite.

5. Be mindful. Switch the television off. Paying attention to what you put in your mouth will reduce the risk of nibbling.

6. Sit down. Your body digests food better when you pull up a chair. You'll also be more conscious of how many calories you consume.

7. Change your table settings. Reduced portions look bigger when you dish them out on smaller plates. Set out candles and flowers to make meals feel more indulgent.

8. Enlist support. Studies show that programs like Weight Watchers generate success through social support. Ask your family and friends to cheer you along.

9. Use other rewards. Treat yourself to good things that leave your waistline intact. Get a massage or pick up show tickets.

10. Drink more water. Water curbs your appetite and keeps all your body functions running more smoothly. It also fights off fatigue that could lead to junk food cravings.

11. Carry your own snacks. Liberate yourself from vending machines and fast food joints. Bring along a thermos of skim milk or a bag of homemade trail mix made with whole grain cereal and dried cranberries.

12. Order wisely at restaurants. Call ahead to be sure the menu can accommodate your diet. Look for grilled and steamed items rather than fried entrees.

Healthy lifestyle changes that you can sustain over the long haul work better than any crash diet that makes you count every calorie you eat. Reach and maintain your ideal weight with simple strategies that will free up your energies for the activities you love.

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