Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Small Steps to Eating Better

There are certain habits that consistently correlate with positive health indicators, such as a lower risk for disease or the ability to maintain a healthy weight. The good news is that these behaviors are not all or nothing. Here are a few ideas about eating well and small steps you can take to get you started in the right direction:

• Eat breakfast every day. Many people believe they don’t need or can’t eat breakfast, when really they never have had a habit of eating breakfast, don’t enjoy it, or don’t want to take the time for it. The brain needs carbohydrates to function properly, and the metabolism wanes without anything to fuel it, so the body physically requires that you eat within the first two hours of rising. Small steps: start the breakfast habit with a glass of juice or piece of fruit, a cup of yogurt, a hardboiled egg, or a cheese stick.

• Eat every four – six hours to keep the metabolism from dropping and help you avoid overeating later in the day. Studies show that eating regularly also helps to maintain a healthy weight. Small steps: keep healthy snacks handy, such as those just mentioned above or breakfast/granola bars, nuts, whole wheat crackers, carrot and celery sticks, or popcorn.

• Make healthy choices when dining out. Small steps: choose water, iced tea, or coffee rather than soda; select a side salad rather than fries; opt for grilled meats rather than sautéed, breaded or fried; ask for your salad dressing and sauces on the side and a take-home box right away; and don’t eat portions any larger than you would at home.

Choose one or two of the small steps to begin with. Once you’re comfortable with those, add another. Check back next week for more ideas.

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