Often considered an essential for anyone looking to live a healthy lifestyle, nutrition isn’t easy. Remembering what to eat, how much to eat, and the different trends to stay on top of (likeKeto or intermittent fasting) can be especially daunting. Thankfully, there are a few simple changes that you can make to your lifestyle to improve your nutrition. Let’s take a look.

7 Healthy and Sustainable Lifestyle Changes

Use Smaller Plates for Easy Portion Sizing.

In America, we often struggle with portions. This makes it easy for us to overdo it with regard to any type of food. One easy way around this is to invest in smaller plates. When you’ve finished eating, an empty plate is a natural stopping cue. By making it easier to trigger, you’ll naturally end up eating less.

Make Junk Food Inaccessible.

If you have a snacking problem, one sustainable lifestyle change you can look to is making it hard to reach. The default bias states that options that are readily available are more likely to be chosen. If you have difficulty snacking, make your defaults better. Take out the bowl of fruit and hide the Kit-Kats. Even taking snacks and putting them on the highest shelf will discourage you from eating them as regularly.

Build a Nutrition Plan.

If you don’t know where you’re headed, it’s hard to get somewhere you want to go. Nutrition is no different. Take some time to build your nutrition plan using MyPlate Plan or another free resource. From here you’ll see what your current diet is missing and can adjust accordingly. 

Carry a Healthy Snack.

Once you build better nutrition habits at home, you might think you’re in the clear. Wrong! When you are out of the house or with your friends, you’ll face extra pressures. The first one is if you’re hungry, the options in front of you may not be the healthy ones you’re looking for. If you carry a snack (protein bar, fruit, etc) you will always have a healthy option if you get hungry on the road. This is a small but sustainable lifestyle change.

Turn External Triggers on their Head.

When you are out of the house, all of the good cues for healthy eating: your nutrition plan, your bowl of fruit, your small plates, are gone. You’re faced with new external triggers: the buffet, your friends ordering appetizers and the extra tall drink sizes. So how can you keep up when all the cues are leading you down the wrong path? You can use a tactic called zooming to avoid all unnecessary noise. Zooming is where you focus on a small subset of options in front of you. If presented with a large menu you might declare to the group, “I’m getting a salad.” Suddenly your list of available options has shifted down to healthier choices.  

Turn Social Reciprocity into Social Accountability.

When out with friends, we can get caught in social reciprocity. Someone buys an appetizer for the group and you feel more inclined to eat it. When someone does something for us we naturally want to do something for them. But we can’t let our nature get in the way of our nutrition goals. So rather than get sucked in, before you even have a chance to order, build social accountability. Tell your group that you are on a new nutrition plan and explain your goals to them. They’ll be impressed and supportive. With this new knowledge, they’ll be less likely to put you in a tight spot and maybe some of them will express their own nutrition or diet goals.

Find a nutrition friend.

This doesn’t have to be a nutritionist. Just find someone also interested in nutrition. Why? One study found that of those who participated in a weight loss program with a friend, 95% of them completed the program. They were also 42% more likely to maintain their loss post program than the people who completed it by themselves. Healthy habits are easier to begin this way. If you want to go far, go together.

Small, sustainable lifestyle changes add up to a big impact.

Making change can sometimes seem like an act of willpower. A herculean feat to power through the obstacles in your path. With the right design and the right systems, you take those mountains and turn them into molehills. With these tips around how to build sustainable lifestyle changes for nutrition, you will have done just that.