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In today's busy lifestyle it is often difficult to eat healthy. We are all guilty of grabbing fast food at some point. March is Nutrition Awareness Month, designated so by the American Diabetes Association.
So how can we eat better and make easy changes that are practical??? Here are three changes that can make a HUGE difference in your overall health.
Step One: Drink more water. At least 8-10 glasses of 8oz each daily. If you are one of those "I don't like water" people, that's ok. Get the no calorie or 5 calorie flavorings; they are sugar free and fantastic! Kool-Aid, Wyler's, Crystal Light, Dollar Tree, and Equate (Walmart) are all great tasting (we use these in my home). It's like having a sweet drink to satisfy the tastebuds while avoiding empty calories and sugar.
Benefits of Step One: Hydration, prevents constipation (colorectal cancer), improves joint pain, improves weight loss......let me repeat......IMPROVES WEIGHT LOSS, healthy skin (first barrier to fight infections), and rids the body of toxins through healthy kidney function.
Step Two: Move around more. Increasing your activity level greatly promotes health and weight loss. I always tell patients to walk briskly (not the professional mall walker pace) at least every other day when they are starting an exercise regimen. Start slow and make attainable goals. If you say you will work out every day with cardio, weights, treadmill for 1 hour........you will set yourself up for failure. You will start and do well for a day or maybe two and then give up due to lack of stamina. I suggest walking briskly, 10-30 minutes every other day for a week or two then increasing to daily. When you are no longer feeling like you are going to die from fatigue or sweating to death.....increase your regimen to include yoga, weights, swimming, or biking.
Benefits of Step Two: Weight Loss, great cardiovascular health, prevention of hypertension, reduces your risk for heart attack/stroke/diabetes reduces risk for developing osteoporosis, and did I mention weight loss???
Step Three: This one is my favorite! My patients hear it in their sleep....."Rome wasn't built in a day" Change takes time. Forming healthy habits that become a lifestyle take time and repetition. Slowly making adjustments to your eating habits and activity level will have more success than a cold turkey New Year's type commitment.
Start by picking your top favorite junk/unhealthy food. Let's say you eat this yummy food daily. During week one you only eat this food every other day, then on week two you only eat it twice during the week. Week three, pick a day, that is your favorite food day and treat yourself to a sensible portion of your favorite food. This will work but it takes discipline and dedication to your overall health.
If portion control is your issue, simply eat 2 scoops of ice cream per serving instead of 3 scoops each time you eat it that first week, and then cut back your number of days on week two while maintaining the 2 scoop portion. On week two, cut back the number of days as well as portion size....so only eat 1.5 scoops every other day instead of daily if you are one of those "I eat ice cream every day" guys. On week three cut back the number of days to only twice that week, maintaining the same portion size of 1.5 scoops. On week four, you got it! This is the week you will only have ice cream once a week. After a couple weeks of limiting your sweet tooth, go every other week then once a month.
Making this transition slowly will make it easier on your body, brain, taste buds, and you will be more successful in maintaining healthy eating habits for the longevity. Another good option to add to the mix is to find a gal pal or buddy who will venture into healthy living and eating with you. Hold each other accountable for slip ups and cheer each other on when doing well.
So let's review, 3 steps. 1--water, 2--get off the couch and move, 3--watch what you put in your mouth. Doing these three things will make a huge difference in your overall health.