Contributed by Patricia N.

I tried the Atkins diet, the Blood Type diet as well as all of the different fasts and cleanses available.  I would lose weight but then gain it all back.  I just found dieting to be too difficult.  Then one day it hit me, instead of giant drastic changes to my eating habits I would incorporate one at a time.  When the new way became a habit, I would move onto the next step.

Here are four big things I learned about food to get in shape:

Don’t give up what you love.  I love bread, but the Atkins diet and the Blood-Type diet, as well as many others, told me to quit eating it all together.  Well guess what?  I couldn’t.  I would rebel and eat a bunch and then feel guilty and eat some more.  Instead I switched from white bread to whole grain bread.  I didn’t just move to boring plain whole wheat. I like nuts so I bought bread filled with sunflower seeds and oats.

Eat more not less.  Diets would leave me hungry. Who can survive off of lemon water with hot sauce for a week?  Eat as much as you want of healthier foods.  I can eat as many vegetables as I want.  Now I am not a fan of broccoli but I can have baked sweet potatoes, beets and kale.  I can eat as many apricots as I please and drink water with lemon all day. I just omit the hot sauce part.

Include your family in your changes.  Children will have learned your bad habits and need to be redirected on the same path.  Your partner may also eat the old way.  If your kids protest, offer them choices, like sweet potato or beets.  Stay strong and they will come around. You are in charge of their health and well-being. They do not get to make the call on what you cook for your family.

Learn to cook.  I always thought cooking was scary and not something I could be good at.  I bought a cookbook with a picture for every recipe.  Then I chose one that didn’t seem too hard and had a yummy picture.  It was edible!  Now I can cook like a pro.  I also did not get any ‘healthy’ recipe books, but ones that attracted me. Most recipe books contain healthy food to start with.

What healthy eating tips have worked for you?