Want results? Make smart, subtle shifts

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Gradually replacing unhealthy ingredients with healthier fare is the best way to bring lasting change to your diet. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

No matter how committed you are to eating healthier or losing weight, making drastic changes can be hard.

A better approach is to make small shifts in the foods you eat every day, according to the U.S. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.

To boost your diet efforts over time, try one small shift a week.

Here are 10 to aim for:

  • Shift from white bread to whole wheat bread or a wrap.
  • Shift from meat to seafood or replace meat in recipes with beans and vegetables twice a week. Join the Meatless Monday bandwagon to gradually reduce the red meat—beef, lamb and pork as well as processed meats—in your diet.
  • Shift from salted to unsalted nuts and from regular canned soups and vegetables to low-sodium varieties. These are painless ways to reduce unnecessary salt.
  • Shift from butter to olive oil and from creamy dressings to vinaigrettes. This increases unsaturated fats in your diet while reducing saturated ones.
  • Shift from whole milk to 2% and then to 1% milk. Even though some studies have reported that full-fat dairy is not the health threat it was once thought to be, this shift will cut calories if you need help losing weight or maintaining a loss.
  • Shift from cream-based pasta dishes to ones with red sauce. This also cuts saturated fat.
  • Shift to roasted squash chunks from French fries. You’ll get more nutrients with fewer calories.
  • Shift from pepperoni to vegetables on your pizza. Processed meats are one of the unhealthiest foods in the American diet.
  • Shift from potato chips to air-popped popcorn and dip chips into salsa instead of sour cream. You’ll enjoy more volume for fewer calories and less fat.
  • Shift from whipped cream to milk foam on coffee drinks. You might even buy a countertop frother for your home.

Look for more opportunities to make small changes like these every time you open your fridge, go grocery shopping or order at a restaurant.

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