Want to see changes but don't want to change your diet? Here are 9 options for you.
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
I am a full on advocate for improving your diet. For most of us, great changes can be made. Our diet and food culture has changed drastically over the past 100 years after thousands of years of only having access to real, whole, unprocessed foods in limited quantities. The opposite is true now. Today, over half of the food we eat is considered "ultra processed". So, again, chances are, there are lots of food choice improvements you can make to improve your health.
But, I recognize that not everyone is ready for this. You still have options. Here are my top 9 ways to improve your health that don't involve drastically changing what you're eating, just how you are eating. No, they won't be easy but they sure are simple.
Eat within a defined window. Humans haven't always has access to unlimited food. We should not be eating from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed. Keeping your food intake to a window of 10 hours or less may be enough to reduce many chronic illnesses according to research.
Stop snacking. This one piggy backs on #1. We don't (and shouldn't) be continually eating. Keeping your food intake to two or three square meals a day can give your stomach and body a break from digesting foods, allowing it to do the rest of the important functions it needs to.
Limit your calories. Sure, you can keep eating what you want, just don't eat quite as much. You'll first have to track how much you are eating. Then, reduce it by 10-20%. Will you feel hungry? Yeah, you might. But, that's okay! It's okay to be hungry sometimes. You obviously don't want to be hungry all of the time, but most of us rarely feel hunger at all because we have food all around us.
Go to bed earlier and get more sleep. Many of us eat more not because we are hungry, but because we are tired and eating helps us stay awake. If you are someone who has a tendency of skipping on sleep, make this one a priority. Insufficient sleep is associated with increased caloric consumption, poor dietary habits, and obesity.
Move more. The average person moves much less today than we did even just 20 years ago. Many of our jobs are sedentary. If we're not moving around much, we really don't require that much food. So, if you are going to keep eating what you're eating (and putting on weight) start moving around more so you can actually utilize the food you are eating! I recommend setting a timer so at the very least, you are standing up every 30 minutes. Moving more can be as simple as standing up more frequently from your desk or getting out for a 10 minute walk after each meal. It can be as elaborate as working with a trainer 5 or 6 days a week. Anything is better than nothing. Just get out and move!
Do a 24 hour fast. 24 hours without food?! I'm not joking! You can and will survive for 24 hours without food. It's a great mental challenge more than a physical challenge. You can do this as frequently as once a week. If your blood sugar is way off, you will probably need the help of a medical professional with this one. I also recommend utilizing electrolytes.
Make more meals at home. If you are someone who is constantly eating out, making meals at home is a great way to see changes. Most take out or restaurant meals are large portions, hyper palatable and loaded with crappy fats. Making and enjoying more meals at home is a great way to feel and function better. It may require you learning to cook and making the time to meal prep, but it's worth it.
Stop eating 2 hours before you go to bed. Your body has a lot of work to do when you sleep. It's repairing and renewing itself every night. If it's digesting the food you just ate instead, it's spending less time on the things it needs to do and you might feel less well and more pain. Stop eating so close to bedtime.
Drink less calories. Our brains register the food we drink differently than the food we eat making it much easier to over eat liquid foods (alcohol, sugary drinks, smoothies). Drink only water and unsweetened (or at the very least, less sweetened) tea and coffee. If you are someone who drinks a lot of your calories, chances are you'll see huge changes from this one.
You CAN make and see changes to your health without drastically changing your diet. I'm not saying the changes will be easy, because change never is, but it is simple. Choose one change, stick with it for 30 days and see the magic happen.