In many cases, especially after the New Year, Americans go big with their goals, and try to make drastic lifestyle changes to lose weight. For example, those who previously never ate fruits and vegetables will do so at every meal for about one week before they cave in and revert back to their previous eating habits. Unfortunately, setting unrealistic goals can be detrimental to a person's weight-loss success, and they can give up before they even start to see results.
The best way to become healthier is to make transitions that are small and that have the potential to easily become part of our everyday lives.
Here are some steps you can follow to slowly and easily transition into eating healthier without neglecting your body -- and your sanity.
Substitute unhealthy side dishes for healthier alternatives when eating out
Instead of eating a steak with fried onions on the side, ask your server if the chef can substitute the fried onions for sauteed onions. In most cases, restaurants will be happy to accommodate your request, especially if your request is healthy.
Buy plain yogurt and add your own natural sweeteners
Many commercial-brand yogurts on the market contain up to 6 teaspoons of added processed sugars and sweeteners, which won't help much with your weight-loss efforts. Instead, buy plain yogurt and add your own healthy and natural sweeteners such as organic honey and small chunks of your favorite fruit.
Eat dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cacao
Dark chocolate contains a number of antioxidants and is linked to a number of health benefits, including the ability to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. If you insist on eating chocolate at all, buy dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet or milk chocolates. The higher the cacao content is in a serving of dark chocolate, the more it will satiate your chocolate cravings.
Eat less boxed breakfast cereals and more whole foods
Even breakfast cereals that boast nutritional benefits often contain sugar and other additives that can add to your waist line. Start scaling back on breakfast cereal completely and eat other healthy whole foods such as soft-boiled eggs, fruit smoothies, yogurt, homemade oatmeal, and granola, especially if you're pressed for time in the morning.
Make your own homemade salad dressings
Most salad dressings sold at the grocery store, including those labeled as "low-fat" or "fat-free," contain a number of processed sugars and ingredients that will fail to complement your healthy, green salad. Instead, make your own healthy salad dressings at home using vinegar, oil, and other seasonings.
Keep in mind that making gradual changes to your diet will be more effective in the long run. Before you know it, you'll take a look at the foods you eat one day and realize just how far you've come with successfully making yourself -- and your lifestyle -- much healthier.