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Six Simple Changes for a Healthy Diet

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Updated August 17, 2013

When it comes to eating healthy, losing weight, or maintaining your current weight, you're more likely to be successful if you make small changes over time rather than overhauling your entire diet at once. Try these simple changes to work toward a healthier diet.

1. Eat breakfast.

Bagel for breakfast
Eric Futran/Chefshots
A nutritious breakfast gets you fueled for the day and helps prevent you from binging later in the day. Easy-to-prepare breakfasts that are also good for runners include cold cereal with fruit and low-fat milk, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, yogurt with fruit, or whole-grain waffles.

Also see: What If I Don't Have Time to Eat Breakfast Before Running?

2. Try lower-calorie, lower-fat versions of your favorite foods.

Sweet potato fries
Joseph De Leo
Don't assume that you have to give up favorite comfort foods like macaroni and cheese when you're trying to eat healthier and lose weight. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare it differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with skim milk, less butter and light cream cheese. You can even add some fresh spinach and tomatoes to make it even healthier.

Look for recipes that are low-calorie versions of your favorite dishes. Just remember to not increase your portion sizes of the lower-cal, low-fat foods.

3. Watch your portion sizes.

Pasta dish
Annabelle Breakey

Standard portion sizes may actually be smaller than you think. For example, three ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. One serving size of pasta or rice is about the size of a tennis ball. Try putting smaller amounts of food on your plate or using smaller plates. If you put more food in front of you, you'll eat it because it's there.

Also see: How to Avoid Mindless Eating

4. Eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

fruit and yogurt
Gregor Schuster
Try brown rice instead of white rice and whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. You don't need huge amounts of fruits and vegetables. A cup of salad counts as one vegetable, so try eating a salad with either lunch or dinner (and choose from the low-calorie, low-fat or fat free dressing options).

Also see: How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet

5. Keep healthy snacks on hand.

Baby carrots
Jenny Acheson
Since runners often get hungry throughout the day, it's important to make healthy snacks available, especially when you're at work. Keeping healthy snacks, such as fruits, veggies, granola, or low-fat popcorn, on hand will prevent you from heading to the vending machine for an unhealthy snack.

6. Start with lean cuts of meat and poultry.

Chicken breast dinner
Alexandra Grablewski
For poultry, the leanest choice is white meat from skinless breast of chicken or turkey. When shopping for beef, look for round, chuck, sirloin or tenderloin. Lean pork choices include tenderloin and loin chops.
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