How small diet changes can make a big difference

It's a common misconception that making drastic or substantial changes to our diet is the only way to improve our health and achieve our weight loss goals. While in some circumstances big changes may be necessary or beneficial, making small amendments to our eating habits can also have a big impact on our overall health and wellbeing. In this article, we take a look at the different ways small diet changes can make a big difference.

How small changes to diet can aid weight loss

Small changes such as cutting back on added sugars can help with weight loss and management. It’s not just cakes, biscuits and fizzy drinks that contain added sugars - breakfast cereals, fruit juices, granola bars, and flavoured have a surprisingly high sugar content. Always read nutrition labels and ingredient lists to identify added sugars in these products. 

Incorporating healthy fats into your diet, such as those found in avocados, olive oil and nuts, can help with weight management, as well as improving heart health. Adding small amounts of healthy fats to your meals can boost their nutrient profile and aid weight loss.

If you’re prone to snacking, switch crisps, chips and biscuits for fresh and dried fruits, mixed nuts and seeds, or carrot and celery sticks with a low fat dip.

If you’re looking to lose weight, why not check out our article How to lose weight fast naturally for some great weight loss tips?

Can you lose weight by eating smaller portions?

Yes, you can achieve weight loss by eating smaller food portions. By reducing the size of your daily meals, you can help to control your calorie intake and make digestion more manageable, allowing your body to absorb nutrients in a more efficient and effective way.

It's important to keep in mind, however, that simply reducing portion sizes is not the only factor in weight loss. A healthy diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods, supported by regular physical activity is also important for weight management.

What happens when you start eating smaller portions?

When you start eating smaller food portions, it’s possible you may initially feel hungry or unsatisfied after meals. This is because your body is used to a certain amount of food and may need time to adjust to the reduced portion sizes.

However, as your body adjusts to the new portion sizes, you may find that you are able to feel satisfied with smaller amounts of food. This can help you to better control your calorie intake and potentially lose weight. Remember, even a small reduction in portion size can help to make a big difference over time.

Should I skip breakfast?

NHS guidance is clear that skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight. Breakfast can help to kickstart your metabolism and provide you with the energy you need to start your day. It can also help to prevent overeating later in the day by controlling hunger levels.

How small diet changes can support your physical health

Switching to a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, while choosing foods that are high in fibre and have a low glycemic index (GI) can help to keep blood sugar levels stable, which is important for managing diabetes. By including more fruit and vegetables in your diet, you are helping to support your immune system and therefore reducing the risk of catching colds or picking up other bugs.

Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, reducing blood pressure and triglycerides, and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

How small diet changes can help you sleep better

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime can aid a better night’s rest. Caffeine is a stimulant which makes it harder to fall asleep, while alcohol is a depressant that interferes with the key stages of the sleep cycles. You should also consider avoiding large meals close to bedtime: Eating a large meal late in the evening can often cause indigestion and discomfort, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. Try to eat your main meals earlier in the day and keep portions small or moderate.

How small changes in diet can give you more energy

Adding more lean proteins to your diet such as chicken, fish or tofu is great for giving you an energy boost. Protein contains important macronutrients that are essential for the proper functioning of your body. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into individual amino acids, which can then be used to build new proteins or be used as a source of energy. Similarly, complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can provide sustained energy throughout the day. Avoid simple carbs like sugar, which can give you a quick burst of energy but then leave you feeling sluggish.

Reducing the amount of caffeine you drink can also help increase your energy levels. While caffeine can provide a temporary energy boost, too much can lead to a crash and interfere with your sleep. Try to limit your caffeine intake to 2 cups of tea or coffee a day, and avoid drinking caffeine close to bedtime.

How small diet changes can help your mental health

According to the charity Mind, making changes to your diet can help to improve your mental health. Reducing your intake of alcohol, which is a depressant, and caffeine, which is a stimulant, can help counter anxiety and low mood. Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can improve gut health, aiding the production of neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps control feelings of anxiety and fear.

Adding more protein to your diet can support the production of chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and some nuts and seeds may also have a positive effect on brain health and cognitive function, and could reduce the risk of developing conditions such as dementia and depression.

Read more about the relationship between food and mental health in our article How does food affect mental health.

How LiveWell Dorset can help

Here at Livewell Dorset, we have some great tools and resources on our website which can help you make small (and big) changes to your diet. For more tips on eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, take a look at our articles How to eat healthily and How to develop healthy eating habits. You can also try our Habit Hacker tool which provides bespoke behaviour change techniques personalised to you. For more information about how LiveWell Dorset can support your health goals, drop us a line or register with us today. Our friendly coaches and advisors have helped thousands of people across Dorset lead happier, healthier lives and we’d love to help you too!


I drank too much alcohol and had unhealthy eating habits. Pastry is such a bad thing, it's all those pies, pasties and sausage rolls!

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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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