Little Changes in Your Eating Can Have Big Impacts

small changes to healthy eating

I asked healthy eating experts to share their tips for making small changes that create big impacts.

The three tips below are great ways to make slight changes that will have long-lasting positive effects on your health by helping you in maintaining a healthy weight:

Tip #1: Goodbye Sodium, Hello Potassium

Like almost every other age group in America, midlife women consume on average more than twice as much sodium than what is considered healthy. What is considered an adequate intake of sodium for all Americans age 51 and older, all African Americans and people who already have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease? According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, or about two-thirds teaspoon of table salt.

Most dietary sodium lurks in condiments such as ketchup and prepared or packaged foods, from bottled dressings, soups and frozen foods to restaurant meals, especially deli meats, pizzas, pastas and chicken dishes. And don't think because you shop for these items at your local healthy grocer that you've escaped the sodium scourge – see for yourself by checking the nutrition facts box.

Cutting sodium in midlife is not only important for those who already have been diagnosed with high blood pressure but its also key for the millions more Americans with PRE-HYPERTENSION. Most women with pre-hypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure or high reading of 120 to 139 and a diastolic or low reading of 80 to 89 taken on two separate occasions, don't even know they have it. Left alone, pre-hypertension usually progresses to hypertension, with all the associated heart disease risk factors, heart attacks and stroke.

But pre-hypertension can be prevented. One way to nip the disease early is to cut back on sodium and boost your intake of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Common potassium-rich foods include bananas, citrus, mangoes, avocado, apricots, cantaloupe, raisins, potatoes, artichokes, lentils, beans, spinach, almonds, milk and yogurt. Weight loss, even a modest five to eight pounds, will also help.

Matilde Parente, MD and Author, "RESVERATROL"

Tip #2: Just Tweak the Way You Cook

Just by tweaking the way you cook (olive oil spray, not from the bottle) and ordering out at restaurants (grilled entree, sauce on the side) you can cut out those sneaky fats and carbs that pile around the middle.

Order your vegetables steamed and bring your own salad dressing and fat free creamer for coffee.

If you want to lose weight, keep your carbs under 150 grams per day and your fats under 15 grams. To maintain a healthy weight, increase those numbers to 200 carbs and 20 fats.

It's simpler than you think. Read labels and go for the lower fat and lower carb versions of the foods you love.

— Bobbie Freiberg – Co-Author of "15-150 Secret to Simple Dieting"

Tip #3: Go Greek… Yogurt That Is…

Yogurt is a great way to get calcium, and it's also rich in immune-boosting bacteria. Greek yogurt is best for weight loss as-compared with regular yogurt, it has twice the protein.

Look for fat-free varieties like FAGE Total 0% Greek Yogurt (100 calories and 18g of protein per 6-ounce serving).

Try my delicious pumpkin pie yogurt recipe (below) with added pumpkin puree and you get a sweet tooth satisfying fiber and protein packed snack. Protein is very satiating, plus your body works harder to digest protein compared to carbohydrates and fat so it burns more calories. Add in some pumpkin puree and top with walnuts and you have a super nutritious snack packed with fiber, protein, good fat and calcium. This snack will also provide you with 180% of your daily requirement for vitamin A (a must-eat vitamin for healthy skin, hair and vision)!

This super nutritious snack is packed with fiber, protein, good fat and calcium. This snack will also provide you with 180% of your daily requirement for vitamin A (a must-eat vitamin for healthy skin, hair and vision)! Yield: 1 serving

  • 6 oz container of 0% fat-free Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree (no sugar added)
  • 2 packets Splenda (or sweetener of choice)
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free whipped cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped (diced) walnuts

Mix all ingredients together and top with whipped cream and walnuts, if desired.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 170, Fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 70 mg, Carbohydrate: 16 g, Dietary Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein: 17 g

— Dr. Janet Brill, Nutritionist and Author

Great tips – thanks to today's experts!

Try these little changes and you'll be surprised to see the pounds start to come off (or at the very least, stop piling on!). Also, be sure to check out my Chicken Florentine Recipe for a Slim Body.

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