We all know the saying – old habits die hard. Changing behavior is difficult, takes hard work, and sometimes, takes a few failures to get it right. In the food and exercise world, I notice that the people most likely to stumble down even the best-paved road are those that take on too much, too fast. Therefore, I often recommend a baby steps approach to dietary and movement change to make the most impact. Here are three habits that will get you on track to truly make lasting change with your eating habits.

Eat Within an 8-Hour Window

In a previous Meadows blog, I outlined some of the different fasting methods. If you simply can’t wrap your head around changing the foods you eat, then change the duration of when you eat them. This fasting tactic is called “time-restricted eating.” Time restricted eating has been shown in multiple studies to help with weight loss, boost energy levels, and positively impact multiple metabolic measures. Blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure have all been shown to improve in individuals that limit their eating time each day to eight hours.

Additionally, despite changing the types of food in the diet, participants in many studies show a reduction in overall fat mass as well. One way to do this is to eat breakfast about two hours later, and dinner about two hours earlier. Coffee, tea, and water can be consumed outside the eight-hour time frame so fret not – as long as it’s black, you can keep your coffee habit!

To Fight Against Cravings, Eat Protein at Breakfast

What does your breakfast choice have to do with cravings? According to a few studies, a lot. Making protein the centerpiece at breakfast (at least 10 grams worth) may help you resist cravings later in the day. It makes sense – breakfast, being the first meal of the day, sets the stage for the entire day. Start with a doughnut or a greasy carb and fat-laden sandwich, and you may not care about the burger and fries at lunch either. But protein does so much more than set a good pattern – it fills you up, and makes it more likely that you can go longer before wanting to eat again. As an added benefit, protein helps build muscle, which in turn boosts metabolism and helps with managing weight. Eggs, protein pancakes, and shakes or sprouted bread with nut butters are excellent choices.

 Eat Only Foods that are Hard to Digest

Fat and protein are not the easiest for the body to digest, and fiber – forget about it. Your body actually can’t break down fiber at all. On the flip side, refined, low fiber carbohydrates and sugar coming from any source are as easy as a roller coaster soaring down its first hill. Here’s why you should care about this. Hard to digest foods fill you up, keep weight down and limit the extreme rise and fall of insulin and blood sugar (a process that can cause inflammation and weight gain). Fiber plays another role in that it can also help in the prevention of certain cancers as well. To keep your blood sugar like a rolling hill and not a mountain, give your digestive system the challenge it’s looking for.

Make change easy by focusing first on these three small habits – though small, their impact can be huge.

Kristen Kirkpatrick is a Senior Fellow of Meadows Behavioral Healthcare and best-selling author of Skinny Liver: A Proven Program to Prevent and Reverse the New Silent Epidemic—Fatty Liver Disease.