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Wellness@Work How to make small, positive changes to your diet

How to make small, positive changes to your diet

How to make small, positive changes to your diet

By Robert Israel, M.D.
USA Health Integrative Health and Wellness

Seemingly small choices can make significant improvements in overall health and wellness, but how can you identify them and then make a plan to embrace them?

If there is something specific you want to address, then that is where to start. On the other hand, if you feel overwhelmed by a lot of little things, finding one or two to take on can seem impossible.

Your family or your doctor can help give you some direction, but the decision needs to be yours as embracing the change will be key to your success.

Likely choices might be reducing sugar intake or eliminating processed foods from your diet. For best results, frame your new choice as a positive instead of a negative.

For example, reducing sugar could be reworded to “make more healthy choices at breakfast.” That may look like replacing sweet rolls or biscuits and jam with whole-wheat toast with nut butter or a sugar-free whole-grain cereal topped with plain yogurt and fruit.

Making positive choices is easier than making negative ones. You may resolve to eat at least one serving of whole grain, and one serving of fruit and/or vegetable for breakfast every day. That sounds so much more positive than “I am never eating another biscuit,” which is penitential or punitive.

Maybe you are eating food from where you “feed” your car. Gas station food is usually highly processed and loaded with non-food items, food-like substances and chemicals. You could say, “I am never feeding my face where I feed my car again,” and that would be laudable.

That actually might work, but another way to avoid temptation would be to always have a healthy snack in your car like a bag of peanuts or an apple, and a bottle of water, which could save you time and money, not to mention your health.

That approach makes me feel like I am in charge and not letting some chemical company or petroleum giant make my dietary choices for me.

When these positive small changes become habits, then they become very hard to break. For example, I do sometimes (but rarely) buy something to eat at a gas station. Most have plain bagged nuts and water, but I always feel like I have entered the dragon’s den and walked out relatively unscathed.

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