We’re living in an ever-evolving world of wellness. What is now considered healthy equates to extreme elimination diets and strict cleanses — but do they really work? The latest food trends are everywhere, from mainstream media outlets to your social feed (where everybody is suddenly an expert).

With all of this information, how are we supposed to know what we really should be putting into our bodies in order to look and perform our best? Because it isn’t the same for everyone, you need to understand what works best for you, specifically.

Taking a realistic approach to nutrition is important, which can be easy if you’re thoughtful and prepared. Below are simple wellness strategies that’ll make a big impact…

Find your why —

Often we read about something and jump headfirst into the latest fad because our friend, neighbor, or co-worker is doing it. But before you start, stop and ask yourself how it will work for you? Why are you making these “healthy” changes? Do you have a special event, health condition, or time frame in mind? Healthy changes work as long as you are motivated. Define what drives you and then go from there.

Focus on small changes like veggies, water, and sugar —

Veggies: Fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal. This will add antioxidants, fiber, and other important nutrients, and leaves less room for higher calorie foods.

Water: You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again… DRINK MORE WATER! Something as simple as water helps with everything from energy, headaches, hunger, weight loss, metabolism, and recovery. How much? Drink half your weight in ounces (so if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of water per day).

Sugar: Skip it! Sugar can sneak up just about everywhere, so it’s important to read your nutrition label and watch out for seemingly “healthy” foods. Common offenders include yogurt, granola, cereal, and energy bars.

Be prepared —  

Don’t leave eating up to chance. Never leave your house without a snack in your bag. This way if you get hungry you will have something healthy to enjoy instead of grabbing the first thing you see (or waiting too long and grossly overeating at your next meal). Fresh food is best, however no one wants to find a rotten banana in their bag, so toss in a bag of nuts, a healthy energy bar, or beef jerky.

The freezer is your new best friend —

On days when your fridge is bare, you work late, haven’t gone food shopping, or are returning from vacation, you’ll be thankful your freezer is full. Yes, frozen food lasts a lot longer and many frozen items can be super healthy, high in fiber, and low in junk. Stock up on frozen veggies (just as healthy — if not healthier — than fresh), frozen shrimp (cooks in 2 minutes), frozen berries for a quick smoothie, low calorie ice pops, or even prepared meals like Daily Harvest (which is one of our faves).

Fail? Move on —  

Did you splurge? Have a bagel, cookie, or one too many drinks? Change your mindset and own it, enjoy it, and move on. One decadent meal won’t move the needle… but a week of them will. If you have a setback don’t toss in the towel, get right back on track the very next time you put something in your mouth. Do not wait for Monday!

You can practice these tips at home, work, or on vacation, and you can try them with kids, parents, or all alone. What really matters is that you just start. Read them over, go for a quick food run, and then drink a glass of water. Let’s normalize nutrition for once and make healthy eating a lifestyle… not a life sentence!

Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition, a NYC-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness. Through encouragement, education, and the right “tricks of the trade,” Amy believes anyone can achieve their nutritional goals while still enjoying the foods and flavors they crave. With over a decade of experience, Amy is a valued authority in nutrition and healthy living and frequently contributes to the media community as both a writer and resource. She is a regular nutrition expert for media outlets including Vogue, MindBodyGreen, and Health Magazine, amongst many others.

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