11 Small Diet Additions That Make A Big Difference

by Carina Wolff

Most of us know by now to eat our fruits and vegetables, but when it comes to healthy eating, other foods are necessary as well. Luckily, you don't have to worry about making huge changes, as there a number of small additions you can include in your diet that have a much larger impact. People may say "go big, or go home," but when it comes to healthy foods, starting off small sometimes can be better. Plus, it's much easier to add some food to your favorite dinner than have to completely change it around.

"You set yourself up for success by starting with small steps," says Rima Kleiner, MS, RD of Dish on Fish over email. "While a big lifestyle plan may be the ultimate goal, smaller and short-term goals are more realistic and feasible. Focus on changing one small behavior each week, pat yourself on the back and then add another goal."

If you want to make your diet healthier without having to buy too many new items at the grocery store, consider adding these 11 small, but impactful foods into your diet. It might not seem like a lot to add them to your meals, but your body will thank you later.

1. Chia Seeds

"Chia seeds are a great little nutrient powerhouse and can be added to anything," says Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN over email. "These seeds provide tons of protein, fiber, and healthy fats." Add them to your oatmeal, your salads, or even your smoothies.

2. Cinnamon

"This spice deserves more love than it gets," says Alpert. "Ground cinnamon is the perfect addition to so many different foods — sweet or savory — and adds a great flavor with no sugar. Bonus: cinnamon has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels."

3. Nuts

"Keeping nuts around the house or at work is always a great idea," says Alpert. "This way, if you ever feel like a snack or your next meal is getting pushed back, you have a healthy option right at your fingertips. Nuts provide you with all the macronutrients you need to stay satisfied and keep your blood sugar stabilized."

4. Cacao Nibs

Whether you add them to yogurt, oatmeal, your baked goods, or even a piece of almond butter toast, cacao nibs add a healthful crunch — and who doesn't love chocolate? "Cacao nibs are are small and full of flavor, without sugar," says Chef Alina Z, MA, AADP, CHHP, NDS over email. "You can satisfy your chocolate craving with just a few pieces and feel good about the snack."

5. Green Tea

If you don't want to add more food to your meal, add a drink! "Green tea is loaded in antioxidants that will help fight off premature signs of aging as well as fight against free radicals in body that lead to inflammation, cancer, and other chronic illnesses," says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN over email. Drinking more tea can also help you increase your water intake throughout the day.

6. Lentils

If you need some more ideas more Meatless Monday, consider incorporating some lentils. "They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and protein," says Zeitlin. "The fiber and protein combo in these guys will keep you full and satisfied. "Add them to your salad or sauté them with some peppers as a side dish for dinner."

7. Hemp Seeds

These crunchy seeds are made from the hemp plant, but don't worry, they won't get you high. They will however, give you a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber, according to multiple studies. Sprinkle them on your lunch and dinner for a little bit of crunch or try blending them into your smoothies.

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8. Sunflower Seeds

Need a snack? Try nibbling on some sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds contain a variety of nutrients such as vitamin E, folate, thiamin, niacin, and iron, and they can help fight off heart disease and cancer, according to WebMD.

9. Seafood

"Whether fresh or frozen, canned or pouched, seafood is essential to a healthy diet and lifestyle," says Kleiner. "Because there is such a wide variety of seafood, it’s easy to incorporate it into your diet. Start by swapping out one chicken, pork or beef meal for a seafood meal once per week."

10. Avocado

"Rich in good fats and blood-pressure-reducing potassium, avocado can help you feel satisfied for hours and prevent cravings for rich foods," says Chef Z. Sliced avocado can be added at any meal, or you can even puree it into your smoothies or desserts.

11. Sprouts

Throw some of these babies on top of your salads or your sandwiches for added nutrients. "Sprouts are rich in live enzymes and protein," says Chef Z. "You can even make your own from lentils, whole peas or mung beans."

The more healthy foods you slowly add to your diet, the healthier your eating habits will become over time.

Images: Pixabay (10)