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A key factor to living at optimal health lies in your eating habits. From preventing diseases such as diabetes or certain cancers, to keeping off extra weight and feeling your best, changing the way you eat has the ability to change everything.

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You can’t go to the grocery store without seeing vegan, paleo, or keto-friendly items throughout the aisles. The impact altering our eating habits can have on our health is apparent; the question is, where do we start?

I caught up with nutritionists and fitness experts Jordan Parker Means and Tammy Hubbard, who were featured in Today’s Woman Best Bodies of 2017, to talk about the eating habits that work for them, and how to help others do the same.

Jordan is the co-owner of By Any Means Fitness and has been on a plant-based diet since April 2017, after the birth of her youngest child. We asked Jordan for advice she would give to readers who are looking to make the plant-based lifestyle change.

“I encourage people to take it slow when it comes to making the switch to plant-based,” Jordan says. “While you can take a cold-turkey approach like me, I’ve found that most people I work with are more successful over the long-term when they take it slow. They are less likely to crave what they’ve eliminated. Start with one meal and build from there. Or, eliminate beef, then chicken, then cheese, and so forth.”

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Tammy left a corporate job when she felt her own life was changed with nutrition and fitness. She believes that changing your eating habits is all about progress, not perfection. Though she keeps up her good habits most of the time, this doesn’t stop her from enjoying the occasional night out with her family at their favorite Mexican restaurant.

“I think of this [health] journey like the path of a rocket. Most of the time the rocket is off course, it’s the gyroscope that monitors the constant course corrections. That’s what I like to picture. Every day presents a challenge, a choice — eat this, eat that — I find my personality (and everyone is different) is like inertia…a good choice leads to another good choice, or a body in motion likes to remain in motion.”

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Tammy describes herself as being extremely disciplined regarding what she eats. She focuses on portion control. Instead of categorizing meals into breakfast, lunch or dinner, she thinks about the foods she needs to eat to maintain energy, feel good and look good. She also plans meals and snacks based around where she’ll be and what she’ll be doing for the day. Tammy’s daily food selections include three vegetables, four proteins, two carbohydrates, one serving of a healthy fat like a nut and two teaspoons of an oil fat, e.g. extra virgin olive oil, almond butter or peanut butter.

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