At the start of every year we come up with ways we are going to change. We are going to eat better, work out more, spend less money, study more and become more organized. By mid-February, we’re at the McDonald's drive thru after spending the day at home watching Netflix and loathing ourselves for giving up on our goals. A lot of our New Year's resolutions are drastic changes to our lifestyles, and we often forget that they take time and different steps to achieve. Having the perfect non-sugar, non-carb diet is hard and truthfully unrealistic. Luckily, I have come up with a list of five small changes to your diet and practical steps to take rather than switching over to an expensive or impossible diet plan. This isn’t to say this list will help you lose 10 pounds or two inches off your waist, but will rather make you feel better and give you the energy needed to complete that workout or finish that assignment.  

1. Reduce sugar intake

Notice the word reduce. That doesn’t mean you have to cut sugar out altogether. We are all allowed to splurge every once in a while, but smaller changes on a daily basis could make a world of difference. If getting a grande instead of a venti iced vanilla latte at Starbucks means less sugar altogether, I think it’s worth it. Other small changes could be chewing sugar-free gum or switching to food and drinks that have natural sweeteners instead of artificial ones.

2. Apple. Cider. Vinegar.

The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are endless. It’s a new health trend that people are preaching about, and I am hopping on board. An experiment conducted by scientists and supported by the National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute of Iran concluded that apple cider vinegar helps you lose weight by aiding digestion and decreasing your appetite. Introduce apple cider vinegar into your diet by adding a capful to a glass of warm water with lemon and drinking it every morning before you take on the day’s activities. Apple cider vinegar also has other health benefits. Read more about them in this article: 8 Amazing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

3. Swap out dairy for non-dairy alternatives

The old school opinion that milk builds strong bones isn’t necessarily proven to be true anymore. New and improved studies are revealing that dairy causes bloating and lots of stomach issues, and doesn’t really provide us with the calcium we need. Eating greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt and drinking non-dairy milks, such as almond milk or coconut milk (two of my personal favorites), have many more health benefits than regular dairy. They are lower in sugar, lower in calories, and are enriched with vitamins. Read this helpful article about Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at all Costs

4. Include fruits or vegetables in every meal

The more colorful your plate, the better. We often reach for foods that are brown or caramel in color, which are the worst for us. Try to eat something of every color of the rainbow throughout the day. Fruits and vegetables are so high in nutrients and vitamins that your body NEEDS for energy. Topping off yogurt or oatmeal with some berries, or having a veggie-filled side salad instead of fries are small changes that could make a big difference in the way you’re feeling throughout the day.

5. Take a daily dose of vitamins

Speaking of vitamins, fruit and vegetables alone don’t always provide us with everything that our body needs. Everyone is different; some of us may need more B12 or more magnesium than the next person. Taking a vitamin or pill that contains a high content of the vitamin or mineral your meals are lacking in can help complete your health-related needs each day.

We are all different people with different nutritional needs and different schedules, and therefore the perfect universal diet does not exist. However, these five easy, inexpensive, and  small changes to your diet can give you that push towards a healthier lifestyle, provide more energy, help you feel better and ready to start an amazing year!