Eating and nutrition

[Updated] 9 Nutrition Specialists Talk About Small Diet Changes that Make a Big Difference

No pain — no gain, right?


There is a reason why crash diets seldom work. Very few people are capable of making a dramatic lifestyle change overnight and then sticking to it. For the rest of us, it’s small but meaningful changes that can make all the difference.

It is proven that consistent changes in dietary pattern bring long-term health benefits — no matter how tiny the change is.

Because — and we won’t get tired of saying this —

Little things that can add up to make a big difference.

Last week, we asked 9 of our favorite nutrition and healthy living experts: “If you could only give someone ONE small diet tip that can lead to big changes, what would it be?”

Here is what they said.

       Kayleigh Christina Clark, health & nutrition coach,

Eat a breakfast full of protein, greens, fiber, and fats! (not talking about running out of the house with a granola bar).

This so much easier than you think! It can be as simple as a smoothie — my favorite Mint Chocolate Chip SmoothieDouble Dark Chocolate SmoothieChocolate Chia Seed Pudding, or whipping up some eggs, spinach, avocado, and optional chicken sausage. All of these breakfasts can be made the night before and then kept in the fridge until you leave for work in the morning, so there is no excuse for “I didn’t have enough time”.

Having a breakfast filled with protein, fats, and fiber will keep you energized, full for longer, balances your hunger hormones, and leads you to make better decisions throughout the day!

Healthy breakfast with greens, avocado and egg

Eat a breakfast full of protein, greens, fiber, and fats! Click to Tweet

      Rachael Hartley, RD, private practice dietitian and blogger at The Joy of Eating:

Eat foods you love, including those you might think are “bad.” Cutting out foods just makes you want them more, and while you might be able to go without for a short period, when you inevitably eat the “bad” food, you’ll end up eating a lot more than you would have. Allow yourself to savor foods that you love!

Delicious healthy breakfast

Allow yourself to savor foods that you love! Click to Tweet

      Rachel Kelts, healthy eating & wellness specialist, Pure Love Raw:

Getting healthy has nothing to do with dieting. Dieting implies restriction and deprivation. Those experiences bind you to feeling short changed. Getting healthy is the opposite. We forget that discipline is a virtue. Being disciplined means that we do what we love.

It is proven that consisted changes in dietary pattern bring long-term health benefits — no matter how tiny the change is.

For example, I’m a runner and am currently training for a half marathon. People say, “How can you run 13 miles, I could never do that”. For me, who loves running I say, “How can I not?”

Being healthy is similar because it also requires discipline. When you start to feed your body what it really wants, you experience noticeable changes. Better sleep, stronger constitution, clearer skin, brighter eyes but the best part about practicing a virtue is that it leads to greater peace, compassion and joy.  Eventually, you can’t imagine eating any other way.

Healthy plant-based meal in a bowl

We forget that discipline is a virtue. Being disciplined means that we do what we love. Click to Tweet

      Jennifer Prentice, health & wellness blogger at My Healthy Homemade Life:

While it’s easy to eat the same thing day in and day out (especially for breakfast and lunch), changing things up can make a healthy diet more exciting and interesting. More importantly, by eating a variety of healthy foods, it’s easier to ensure that you are consuming adequate amounts of essential nutrients. For the maximum amount of nutrients, choose plant foods such as:

  • leafy greens (kale, Romaine lettuce, collards, etc.)
  • cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.)
  • whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, bulger, etc.)
  • legumes (beans, peas, snow peas, lentils, etc.)
  • fruit (fresh or frozen)
  • starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, winter squash, etc.)
  • non-starchy vegetables (cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, etc.)
  • nuts and seeds (almonds, brazil nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)

Variety of healthy foods on the table

Eating a variety of healthy foods can make a healthy diet more exciting! Click to Tweet

      Lindsay Cotter, nutrition specialist, gluten free food blogger,

My one tip? Study yourself. What your body is sayin/craving and then feed it with wholesome foods. Don’t follow fad diets. Also be sure to rest and digest with your meal times.

A healthy breakfast bowl with fruits, toast, juice and avocado

Don't follow fad diets! Click to Tweet

      Kia Nesmith, founder and health coach at Simply Wellness:

My one tip: remember that FAT is NOT the enemy! Most people realize that to be healthy, vegetables need to be a mainstay of your diet (the best carbohydrate there is!). And that protein is also critical (for building and maintaining strong muscles, bones and red blood cells). But for so long, we have been bombarded with an anti-fat campaign that has many people afraid of eating fat. However, fat is incredibly important and should not be overlooked. The 3 key facts about fat are: (1) Fat is required for the body to absorb and use any fat-soluble vitamin (i.e. vitamin D, A, E, K & F). (2) The correct combination of fats can help reduce your body’s inflammatory response; thereby helping to reduce your risk of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. (3) And most importantly, your brain is at minimum 60 percent fat. Without healthy fat in your diet your brain won’t have the necessary fatty acids that it needs to function and thrive — leading to brain fog, sluggish brain and even low brain function and disorders.

The bottom line is: make sure you’re getting enough healthy fats in your diet — at least 1 serving every time you eat!

Remember that FAT is NOT the enemy! Click to Tweet

      Katie, healthy eating & fitness blogger, Gettin’ My Healthy On:

Make it homemade. It’s a small lifestyle change that can make a big difference, simply because you have more control over what you’re eating. You don’t have to be an amazing chef to make tasty, nutritious meals either. (One of my favorite easy meals to throw together is burrito bowls.) Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration if you need recipe ideas.

By simply reducing the number of times you go out to eat within a week or month, it can be significantly easier to reach your health goals. Plus, it can be fun to experiment with fresh ingredients, and you might even discover you enjoy cooking!

Make it homemade! Click to Tweet

      Adrienne, Whole New Mom (where research-based healthy living information and special diets meet):

Keep the junk out of the house and focus on the way you eat not being a diet, but being a way to care for the one body that you have been given.

You’ve only been given one body—one life. It’s precious. So treat your body as if it’s the only one you have—because it is. Make good choices at the store, and you will be surrounded by nourishing options all day long. Your body and your loved ones will thank you!

Focus on the way you eat being a way to care for the one body that you have been given. Click to Tweet

      Tobias Sjösten, CrossFit L1 Trainer, BJJ practitioner, Athlegan:

The only meal you can really control is the one you’re just about to eat. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can let this one slip as long as you promise yourself to make good with the next meal. When that next meal happens, nothing will have changed except that you now have a longer history of leniency and lack of self-control. It’s a downward spiral, one small and seemingly insignificant step at a time.

Instead, take charge of the situation and control the only thing you have control over – your actions in the very moment you are. Control your now and you’ll enjoy your future.

Control your now and you'll enjoy your future. Click to Tweet

Ready to Incorporate these Easy Tips?

Fueling your body with the right nutrients is completely within your control, and it does not have to be a struggle. There is no such thing as “one size fits all” diet.

A good diet is the one that contains fair amounts of essential nutrients, suits your preferences and is easy to stick to. Consider adding one or several of these simple tweaks to your everyday diet… and see why the best way to eat healthy may also be the easiest!