Making the commitment to healthier eating can feel like a daunting undertaking. You may be thinking: “Do I have to count calories? Or go low carb? Or give up all the food I like?” You’ll probably do better if you think about what you can add to your diet, rather than what you need to take away.

Making the commitment to healthier eating can feel like a daunting undertaking. You may be thinking: “Do I have to count calories? Or go low carb? Or give up all the food I like?” You’ll probably do better if you think about what you can add to your diet, rather than what you need to take away.

Making a few easy additions and some healthy swaps will start you on your way to a healthier diet, and you might not even feel like you are trying. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Sneak some veggies into dishes you already make. You can add vegetables to casseroles, meatloaf, spaghetti, and macaroni and cheese with very little change to their flavor. Try adding chopped frozen spinach to your spaghetti sauce, some pureed squash to mac and cheese, or finely chopped or pureed carrots to meatloaf. Pile veggies like tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers on your sandwich, and try using a mashed avocado instead of mayonnaise. Replace some or all of the meat in a casserole with beans or mushrooms. Pump up your salad with spinach or kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, radishes or whatever you like.

2. Make the switch to whole grains. Besides switching to whole grain bread, swap brown rice for white rice and give whole grain pastas a try. Try some other whole grains, like quinoa or barley. Use whole grain cereals like oatmeal, shredded wheat or bran cereals.

3. Drink more water. Water should be your drink of choice, replacing sugar-sweetened beverages and juices. If you don’t like plain water, flavor it with slices of fruit. Or swap out soda for seltzer with a splash of 100-percent fruit juice. If using sugar-free flavoring drops or powders helps you drink more water, then go for it. Keep a large bottle of water within reach to help get the habit started.

4. Use smaller plates. This will automatically reduce the calories you eat at a time. Keep in mind that half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables.

5. Snack smarter. Ideally, a snack shouldn’t have more than 200 calories. Try swapping popcorn (a whole grain!) for chips. Other smart snack ideas: hummus with whole grain crackers or vegetables, a hardboiled egg, a handful of nuts, whole fruit, or pretzels.

6. Display healthy foods, and hide the not-so-healthy ones. When searching for a snack, we tend to eat the first thing we see. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit or nuts in plain sight. Repackage chips and cookies to single-serving sizes. Keep healthy snacks in your pantry or cabinet at eye level, and move those other snacks to the back to keep them out of sight and out of mind.

7. Concentrate on eating more whole foods. Foods that you could actually grow are packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Highly processed foods are more likely to be loaded with sugar, salt and empty calories.

8. Change up your cooking methods. Instead of frying, try baking, broiling, roasting or grilling your food. If you find yourself frequently frying your food, an air-fryer might be a good investment. Cut back on the amount of butter and cheese in your recipes. Substitute lean meats, such as ground turkey breast or 90/10 hamburger for regular ground beef.

9. Make better choices at restaurants. Ask for the salad dressing on the side. See if there is a substitute for the fries. Choose the fried foods less often. Start the meal with a salad. Go for the low-calorie or no-calorie drinks most of the time. Order pizza with thin crust, and load it up with veggies.

10. Slow down. Savor the first few bites — that’s what we enjoy the most. Limit distractions, which can cause you to eat more without realizing it.

11. Taste your food before adding salt. For a lot of people, adding salt is just automatic. Keep the salt in the cabinet, and only use it if you really need it.

12. Become more active. Good nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. Take the stairs, go on a short walk over your lunch break, and find other simple ways to move more.

Taking small steps to improve your daily eating habits can add up to big benefits in the long run. Remember, this is not a diet but a lifestyle.

Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the Cardiopulmonary Rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.