Submitted Date 09/23/2018

Most diets rely on extreme and unsustainable changes to your eating habits. You end up feeling deprived and hungry, which makes you irritable and emotional; and more likely to gorge on comforting and unhealthy foods. Plus, it's harder to enjoy your social life when you can't have what everyone else is eating and drinking.

So instead of making drastic and passing changes to your entire diet, try making some small but significant edits to what you're already eating. You can still have what you love, just in a slightly different style.

1. Avocado Everything
Avocados are truly fruit of the gods. Their high healthy fat content makes them creamy, while their mild flavor melds well with your favorite foods. Slice or mash a half to add to your salads instead of high calorie dressings. Use them in your tuna or pasta salads instead of unhealthy, high-fat mayo. Even slice and add to whole grain bread with some tomato and lettuce for a vegetarian snack. Add low sodium bacon or turkey bacon for a meaty avocado BLT.

2. Breakfast for Dinner
Smaller meals to end your day can keep you from overeating late at night and sleeping on a full stomach. It also encourages you to eat more and fill up at breakfast, when you really need the most energy. But no need to pack in a full stack of flapjacks with bacon, sausage and a heaping helping of syrup for supper. A smoothie or simple bowl of cereal and low-fat, skim or nut milk will do the trick. Aim for lots of veggies and just enough fruit to add a touch of sweetness for your smoothie dinner. And switch that sugar-loaded kids cartoon cereal for low-sugar granola or whole grain cereal. Unfrosted organic real-fruit toaster pastries and low-sugar fruit and nut energy bars will also do the trick in a pinch.

3. Go Nuts
Swap your dairy fix for nut-based beverages. Hold the whole, pass on the 1% and 2%, and skip the skim. Go straight for your favorite brand of almond, cashew, coconut or other nut milk. Soy, rice, oat, pea and hemp milks work well, too. The sweetened original, vanilla and chocolate flavors may have a bit too much sugar for your taste. So try the unsweetened varieties as well.

4. Plain and Simple
Yogurt is a great way to get in a healthy snack. But most companies add way too much sugar to what once was diet friendly gnosh. So skip the fruit on the bottom and creamy kinds of yogurt. Instead, take some plain no sugar added yogurt an add your own fresh fruit for a mildly sweet kick. Chop peaches and strawberries. Mash blueberries and bananas. Dice apples and apricots. Then add a dash of flaked coconut, a sprinkle of cocoa powder, a pinch of chopped nuts, or a garnish of granola. Add a touch of honey or agave nectar for some natural sweetness. Or stevia extract, monk fruit extract, or erythritol will add some extra sweetness without those extra calories. And this works well with cottage cheese too, but you won't get the benefits of the probiotics found in yogurt.

5. Sack the Sweet Stuff
Speaking of natural calorie-free sweeteners, swap out your high fructose corn syrup and sugary sweeteners for stevia extract, monk fruit extract or erythritol. Raw honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, coconut syrup, turbinado sugar, yakon syrup and other less processed forms of sugar are better than refined white sugar. But they still carry calories and will raise your blood glucose. Stevia extract, monk fruit extract and erythritol are good substitutes when trying to sweeten beverages, hot and cold cereal, and some baked goods. Some recipe adjustments might be in order but you'll get the hang of it.

6. Soda Drop
Drop sodas from your life. Now! Soda is candy, and you don't need it. Even diet sodas are made with chemical sweeteners that actually increase your appetite. So they won't help with your diet. And yes, sodas made with real sugar are better than those made with corn syrup, but they're still bad for you. Instead, drink carbonated beverages made with stevia, or flavored seltzers. You can even experiment with fun flavors if you invest in a home soda maker, like Soda Stream.

These small changes are easy to start and stick to. You won't even notice the difference in your day until you see changes in your waistline. So remember, when it comes to your weight, don't sweat the small stuff. Just switch it.

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