How To Start Dieting For a Healthier Life


Long life comes from eating right, studies say. Here's how to begin

Living a longer, healthier life can start with your diet. You could add up to 13 years to your life if you ate a few red and processed meats and more fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, a recent study revealed.

The largest gains in longevity were found from eating more legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils; whole grains, which are the entire seed of a plant; and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios.

Plant-based diets are winning top nutritional honors. Diet can be as much of a vital sign as blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate, said Dr. David Katz, a specialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine and nutrition who has published research on how to use food as preventive medicine.

These are five expert-recommended ways to change your diet for the better.


1. Track your current eating habits

Many of us eat mindlessly, not really understanding all that we put into our mouths. That's why becoming aware of your real eating habits is the first step, said registered dietitian nutritionist Kathleen Zelman.

Write down everything you eat for a day and include details such as time, location and other factors that affect your dietary habits. 

Don't try to be perfect when you start to change your diet, she added. Look for small steps that you can sustain. Then do it again next week.


2. Plan for success

We eat what surrounds us. To get started, it’s best to shift your food environment, including your home, your work and your car. Pack healthy lunches and snacks, and don't forget to travel. Stop at a grocery store before you get to the hotel so you can stock your room like you would stock your home.


3. Remove sugar from breakfast

Start your day with a healthier bang by removing sugar from breakfast. There's many benefits to cutting sugar from the first meal of the day. Your blood sugar stays level; your energy and creativity stays high, and it sets the tone for the day.


4. Make one meal meatless

The simplest way to start eating more plants is to replace one meat-based meal a day with a plant- or grain-based choice, experts say. Starting with lunch by adding lentils, whole grains or beans to a meatless salad helps raise those blood sugar levels slowly, which gives your brain the energy it needs to make it through the afternoon slump. It also reduces overeating at night, experts say.


5. Eat what you love

We all know eating fruits and veggies are good for us, but they aren't typically our favorite foods. Yet in order for this new habit to stick you need to get enjoyment out of eating delicious, healthy food.

Work with an expert or think about ways to incorporate the flavors of food you love into your daily routine until it becomes a habit to eat those foods.

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