For those who aren’t doing much in the way of exercise and aren’t especially focused on healthy eating, I’ve put together a list of rules to live by that can help you turn around bad habits. Most Americans are overweight and don’t know where to begin making changes for the better. Here are 5 things the average person can do to move in the right direction.

Cut Out the Soda — Carbonated pop is loaded with calories, sugar and sodium. Some people consume massive amounts of soda every day and it’s become a normal part of their life. If you could make just one change, substituting soda for water will make a tremendous difference. I’ve had clients lose over 10 pounds just by cutting out soda because of all the water retention caused by sodium.

Eat More Protein – The average adult doesn’t eat enough protein. This may be hard to believe in the fitness world, but many people consume mostly simple sugars in their normal diet. By including more protein foods like eggs, chicken, turkey, lean red meat and fish, blood sugar will be more stabilized and cravings for sugary foods will fade.

Prepare More Meals at Home – “Eating on the run” or “grabbing food to go” is common for the average American who’s typically too busy to cook. Unfortunately, much of the food bought in restaurants is full of sodium, saturated fats and sugar. By preparing food at home, you’ll increase your nutritional health and save money in the process.

Eat Vegetables Every Day – It’s been ingrained in our heads to eat our veggies every day, and that advice isn’t just for kids. Most Americans are deficient in the vitamins, minerals and fiber that vegetables provide. If you can include a serving of some type of vegetable in at least one or two meals per day, you’ll be taking a big step toward improving your health.

Don’t Be Afraid to Eat at Night – If you’re accustomed to raiding the fridge at night and indulging in a late night snack, you can curtail those hunger swings by eating a small meal before you go to bed. Try cooking up some egg whites and a half cup of oatmeal as your last meal of the evening. The combination of protein and complex carbohydrates will help cure your appetite for junk food.

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