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If diets aren't your thing, take baby steps to good nutrition

The Clean Eating diet seems to be getting a lot of attention lately. If you want to learn more, check out this blog from The Gracious Pantry. It's one of the most reader-friendly descriptions I've read.

I like the core concepts of the Clean Eating plan. Eating fruits, vegetables, grains and meats in their least processed states just makes sense doesn't it? And this certainly isn't the first time that nutritionists have been advocating eating more smaller-portion meals each day.

I just can't commit to diets. I always end up breaking some cardinal rule and then feeling guilty. Instead, I like to take some of the easiest steps in diets and apply them to my life.

From the Clean Eating plan, I'm going to try to incorporate the nonprocessed meat idea and the more meals of small-portions into my life.

Readers and friends tell me there are two main reasons their diets are poor: Time is short and money is tight. It's just so darn convenient to stop at a fast food drive thru or microwave a frozen dinner. I get it. That's why I believe some of my friends who have chosen to take baby steps towards better nutrition have had the most success.

Here are four small steps that I've found successful:

Give up soda: Buy yourself a cute reusable cup and fill it up frequently with ice and water. Treating yourself to one those super cute heavy-duty plastic cups with a reusable lid and straw might make water seem more exciting. When you're craving something bubbly, try one of the many flavors of Perrier or Pellegrino now available. I've seen grapefruit and blood orange in addition to lemon and lime. I feel less bloated and less fatigued since I gave up soda.

Eliminate fried foods: If you really can't imagine giving up fast food, at least skip the fries. Instead of a burger-fry-soda combo order a burger and a side salad. Take it home and eat it with your new favorite flavor of sparkling water. This was definitely the most effective food elimination I made in regard to weight loss.

Have one meatless day a week: Incorporate one meatless day into your routine. Just one a day week where you don't eat bacon for breakfast, lunch meat for lunch and chicken at dinner can help you think about meals differently. This helped me be more creative about putting a meal together. For example, pita pizza for lunch and peppers stuffed with Spanish rice for dinner.

Fruit for dessert: Have a handful of berries or apple and pear slices for dessert. Have your fruit dessert a few hours after you eat dinner. This actually helped me curb my late-night potato chip cravings.