Forget extreme dieting; instead try to make real changes this year that will have a lasting effect on your health.

Nutritionist Christine Bailey, founder of the Lean and Nourish Club, suggests making small but sustainable changes that fit your lifestyle and schedule.

“The truth is, there is no one diet that is right for everyone. It’s about finding what works best for everyone and then focusing on that rather than jumping from one fad diet to another. Through years of working with people on their nutrition, I’ve found that there are a number of factors to consider when it comes to finding the right diet that is sustainable for you in the long run,” mentions Christine. “Whatever diet you choose, it should be tailored to your goals; for example, are you looking to lose weight, gain muscle, increase energy levels or address an ongoing health issue? Does it include foods you really enjoy eating? Does it work with your lifestyle and schedule? “

Follow these tips from Christine to help you make lasting changes that will benefit your long-term health.

1. Small, consistent changes.

Don’t try to change everything at once, whether it’s a new exercise program or a whole new eating plan. Scale back and make small, specific changes. For example, try changing your breakfast initially, perhaps swapping your cereal for a protein shake. Another change might be to use your lunchtime break time to take a walk or plan your dinner.

2. Low in carbohydrates, high in protein

One of the easiest ways to drop a few extra pounds is to reduce carbohydrates and increase protein. Studies show that low-carbohydrate intake combined with increased protein is an effective strategy for favorable results.

3. Reduce portions

The Japanese are well known for staying slim and one of the reasons seems to be their tradition of eating only until they are 80% full, exercising more and not snacking late at night. Most people don’t gain weight overnight, it happens slowly, over years and is related to constantly eating more than their bodies need. Reducing portions at each meal is a simple strategy to make a real long-term impact.

Swap your plate for a side dish or bowl and serve your meal before you sit down to eat and resist the temptation to increase your portion size.

4. Include more soups and smoothies in your daily diet.

Research suggests that more liquid foods like soups and smoothies can help people feel more satiated, resulting in significantly lower calorie intake.

Soups and smoothies are also an ideal way to incorporate more greens and nutrients. Don’t like greens? Try adding a scoop of green superfood powder such as spinach or kale in your smoothies or at the end of cooking a soup. These foods provide fiber and a host of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

A green protein smoothie is also a simple and healthy breakfast option. Starting the day with a healthy and nutritious breakfast is more likely to encourage you to follow a healthier eating pattern for the rest of the day.

5. Prepare a healthy version of junk food.

If you’re tempted to buy junk food on the weekend, why not prepare your own healthy version? Not only will you save money, but you’ll also cut calories without sacrificing your favorite foods. A single slice of pizza can contain over 1,000 calories and a lot of saturated fat and sodium. If anything, you could replace it with a healthy version of low-fat, low-sodium pizza.