Improving someone’s diet without meeting them in person is an almost impossible task, in fact even after meeting that person it is still very difficult if they don’t track their calories or follow a routine. So this article is designed to apply to the majority of people, but you may find that not all the points relate specifically to your needs. This is a look at five simple changes that most people could benefit from making to their diet.
Step One. Count your Calories
The modern diet is leaving people overweight and unhealthy, and there are a lot of reasons for that. The fact is that not only are we as a society eating more food, we are eating more calorie dense food. By that I mean food that may be small in size but is high in calories. For example, what would you say had more calories, a large tablespoon of peas, or half a teaspoon of peanut butter? The large tablespoon of peas is much larger in size and weight than the half teaspoon of peanut butter, but whilst the peanut butter is 15 calories the tablespoon of peas is only 7 calories. This is because peanut butter is calorie dense.
Another example of how easily we can over-consume calories is this. Let’s say that you were to take a handful of cashew nuts, pretty healthy right? Well yes, they are. They contain high levels of Potassium, Iron, and Magnesium, and contain “healthy” fats. But that handful of nuts would be around 160 calories! Imagine if you took three or four handfuls? And this is supposed to be the healthy option.
The best way to improve your diet is to learn more about the food that you eat, and to that end, you really should start tracking your calories. This means finding an online calorie counter (myfitnesspal.com is always a good choice) and inputting your daily food choices. The tracker will tell you how many calories you are consuming per day whilst letting you know what your ideal target should be.
The main thing to do though is to make sure that you analyse the foods you are eating. What foods are helping you hit your macronutrient targets (protein, fat, and carbohydrates)? And what foods are hindering you? A lot of this is common sense – ice cream sundaes are probably not going to be as effective as an egg-white omelette – but some foods will surprise you.
Step Two. Increase your Protein Intake
Increasing protein is one of the general pieces of advice that gets thrown around now as if protein is a miracle cure-all macro. Obviously, that’s not the case, but there are a lot of reasons why you should have a high amount of it in your diet. Lots of people think that they already eat a high protein diet, but in the majority of cases, they are wildly overestimating how much protein they actually consume per day. But before we get ahead of ourselves let’s take a look at what increasing your protein intake can do to benefit you. Firstly, having a high amount of protein can prevent muscle loss whilst
But before we get ahead of ourselves let’s take a look at what increasing your protein intake can do to benefit you. Firstly, having a high amount of protein can prevent muscle loss whilst dieting . If you are looking to lose weight then you are going to be lowering your calories. This can lead to a loss of muscle mass, which (whatever your goals) is a bad idea, but by keeping protein high whilst lowering both fat and carbs you can avoid this.
Protein can also increase thermogenesis – leading to a raised metabolism, which won’t make a huge amount of difference (but every little helps). Another benefit is that protein can increase satiety  this means the feeling of fullness you get after a meal, the more full you feel between meals the less likely you are to snack on high-calorie foods. Satiety on its own isn’t going to help you lose weight, but its effect on the reduction of snacking can do so. Protein, when combined with exercise can help increase muscle size and strength. It does this by providing the fuel needed for the repair of damaged muscle fibres. This is known as muscle protein synthesis, and it is essential for growth .
There are many ways to increase protein intake, these days you can buy higher protein versions of your favourite snacks (there is currently a company that makes protein beer!). You can also purchase whey protein powder, eat more meat, fish, and dairy. Or you can find vegetarian/vegan sources such as tofu, beans and pulses, and even vegetables!
Step Three. Buy Pre-prepared Vegetables
Speaking of vegetables, it would be fair to say that they are not as popular as they should be. Cutting, peeling, dicing, all followed by boiling, steaming, or roasting. This process can turn a 5-minute meal into an hour-long process. So learn how to cheat.
Buy frozen, buy pre-prepared, save yourself time and effort. Stop worrying that frozen vegetables are less nutritious than fresh, not only has this myth been disproved but actually the opposite is true. Frozen veg is actually better for you, that’s because it is frozen almost immediately after being harvested, whereas “fresh” fruit will have been left out for quite a while by the time it gets to you.
But even if frozen wasn’t better for you, would the fact that it was a lot easier to prepare make it more likely that you would add it to your meal? Probably. In which case, stop worrying about nutrient density. Getting more vegetables in your diet is the important part.
Step Four. Stop worrying about Aspartame
There are 250 calories in a bottle of Pepsi. Just remember that number, now let’s compare it to the calories in a bottle of Pepsi Max which is zero. There are zero calories in Pepsi Max. So swapping your daily Pepsi with a Pepsi Max would save you 250 calories per day. But for some reason people tell you to avoid sugar-free drinks because they contain Aspartame. “That stuff gives you cancer” they say even though Aspartame is “one of the most thoroughly tested ingredients in our food supply” . Another claim regarding Aspartame is that it can lead to weight gain, well considering the fact that it has been proven to have no effect on hunger ratings or food intake  and that it is virtually free of calories you can stop worrying.
Step Five. Understand the difference between health and dieting
At the beginning of this article we talked about analyzing your food intake using a calorie counter. The important thing to mention is that if you are analyzing your food but not learning from it, then it was all a waste of time. So let’s say you’ve been eating an avocado for lunch every day and you have realised that avocados are actually quite high in calories. You know that avocados are good for you, they have lots of healthy fats in them, contain iron, potassium, Vitamins E/C/D, and Niacin etc … But one avocado is 322 calories. This means that the avocado is healthy, but it is not going to help you lose weight.
It is important for you to make this distinction if you are planning to lose weight or improve your health (and yes it is possible to do both). Luckily a lot of foods that are healthy are also low in calories, but just be careful.