Healthy Habits: Small Changes for Huge Impact

By Martha McCully

Paleo to vegan may be too drastic a change for you—or anyone, for that matter. (Any time someone suggests a lifestyle overhaul, I run for the rosé.) But the truth is, there are minor adjustments that we can make to have a major healthy impact in the long run. I never thought I would be able to switch out my Kashi GOLEAN cereal with skim milk for an almond milk, berry and kale smoothie every morning, but that’s one of the healthy practices that became a permanent habit. Here are a few of my other favorites.

Add Turmeric to your salad dressing. It’s the best spice for your overall health because it contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. But who really consumes turmeric everyday? Here’s a simple recipe to take in this cancer-preventer daily: Make your salad dressing from olive oil, lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, salt (I am obsessed with Maldon) and black pepper. It gives your greens a little more zing and color, too. Also note that turmeric works best in our bodies when consumed with black pepper.

Pick pastured eggs. Animals cannot be “organic” - they can only be fed with organic food. So even “organic” eggs may not help balance your omega-6s with omega-3s (the goal is a 1:1 ratio). It just means chickens are eating organic feed, which can be a sack of grains such as soy and corn. “Cage-free” and “free-range” may not mean anything more than they have an option to go outside of their cage, but they may still be raised in a hen house. Track down eggs from chickens who are raised in pastures and naturally eating plants and insects, which is how they produce the healthy omega-3s found in their yolks. Farmer’s markets are the place to find them. Yes, they are more expensive. So when I make a big frittata, I use a few of these golden eggs and the egg whites from conventional supermarket eggs (never poured from a carton!).

Skip the dryer sheets. Did you know they work by coating your clothes in chemicals and synthetic fragrance? They can also emit toxic fumes like toluene and styrene that can cause pulmonary irritation and sensory irritation, as a study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health shows. The “soft” feeling on your clothes is likely from petroleum, which is the basis of a lot of synthetic chemicals. Switch to a natural dryer sheet that uses essential oils and plant-based materials, or just skip the dryer sheets altogether. Are your clothes really that rough? And when you take the clothes out of the dryer, just shake them out to get rid of the static cling. Remember, it’s the synthetic fabrics that get static-y, not natural fibers.

Use ice cubes made of lemon juice instead of water. If you can’t squeeze a fresh lemon every morning, just drop one of these beauties into your water. (You do start every morning with water and lemon juice, right? It perks up your digestive tract.) You can use the cubes in salad dressing or when cooking chicken or fish, too. By freezing ahead, you can also get the benefits of real lemon juice all year, which include cancer-fighting limonoids, vitamin C, potassium and flavonoids.

Swap oil-roasted nuts for raw. Oil roasted nuts are often baked with extra oil and a lot of salt. Why increase your sodium intake with extra oil and salt? Dry-roasted nuts are acceptable as long as there is nothing added to them, but I prefer raw. Most importantly, beware of premixed containers of nuts. Check the ingredients list for added oils and “natural flavors.” Huh? Aren’t there just supposed to be nuts there? “Natural flavors” can include hundreds of chemicals, like MSG, used as flavor enhancers and deemed part of the manufacturer’s “trade secret,” so listing each ingredient is not required by the FDA. Trader Joe’s sells almonds in individual packets.

This article originally appeared on Martha McCully is a writer and lifestyle expert known for trying whatever it takes to uncover the logic in health and beauty trends. She was the Executive Editor of In Style, a founding editor of Allure and a judge on HGTV’s Design Star for three seasons. Currently she is the Editorial Director at, launching this year. A former New Yorker, Martha traded in her snow boots for Tom’s, and now lives in Venice, California.