15th October 2021
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is known to be good for our health. Despite all the benefits, making long-term changes to our diet can be challenging. This article will explore the most effective ways to make long-term dietary changes that have a big impact on health.
Making new healthy habits can be hard when there are constant temptations around the house. Research has shown that making diet and lifestyle changes alongside a partner can increase the likelihood of you maintaining them, helping to improve your health in the long-term (1).
Logging the foods you eat in a food diary or app can help to keep you on track when making dietary and lifestyle changes. Research has shown that using a nutrition and food tracking app can help to increase self-confidence in approaching long-term dietary changes and helps you to overcome barriers to healthy eating (2). There are plenty of free smartphone apps which can help you to track your intake and identify smart food choices when shopping.
Making dietary changes can be challenging so it’s important to have realistic expectations. Try to avoid an ‘all or nothing’ approach and accept that there will likely be barriers to overcome along the way. Forming a routine can take a long time. One study found that it took on average 66 days (just over two months) for a group of people to make changes to their diet and physical activity before it became ingrained (3).
Make gradual dietary changes to allow your body time to adapt. For example, it’s recommended that you reduce salt intake slowly to allow your tastebuds to adapt to a change in flavours (4). Similarly, increases in dietary fibre intake (e.g., wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and pulses) should be done gradually whilst making sure you remain hydrated to allow your gut to adjust to minimise any side effects.
Here are some simple food swaps to help you to make small yet effective changes to your diet.
1. European Society of Cardiology. Spouses shed more pounds together than alone. ScienceDaily. 2020. Available from: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200827101837.htm.
2. Antonella Samoggia, Bettina Riedel. Assessment of nutrition-focused mobile apps’ influence on consumers’ healthy food behaviour and nutrition knowledge. Food Research International. 2020. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2019.108766.
3. Arlinghaus KR, Johnston CA. The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2018. Available from: doi: 10.1177/1559827618818044.
Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Potassium based sodium replacers: assessment of the health benefits and risk of using potassium based sodium replacers in foods in the UK.2017. Available from:
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