Have you decided to start eating healthier and become more physically active? Have you realized that healthy choices have a positive impact on not only yourself, but also those around you?
If your goal is to lose weight or maintain your current healthy weight, here are some tips to help you achieve that goal. Remember, to maintain weight, you must balance calories with the energy you burn through physical activity. If you eat more than you expend, you gain weight. If you eat less (reduce calories) than you expend, you lose weight!
Make healthy choices a habit. This leads to a healthy lifestyle! Make a commitment to eat well, move more, and get support from family and friends. Even better, start eating healthier and being active together!
Remember to be realistic about your goals. If you try to reduce the calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar in your diet AND promise to make a drastic change in your physical activity level, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Instead of trying to make many changes at once, set smaller, more realistic goals for yourself and add a new challenge each week.
Conduct an inventory of your meal/snack and physical activity patterns. Keep a food and activity journal. Write down not only what you ate, but where, when, and what you were feeling at the time. You will see what triggers your hunger and what satisfies your appetite. What foods do you routinely shop for? What snacks do you keep in the pantry?
Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits per day. If you’re adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, remove the higher calorie, less nutrition foods from your diet and substitute them with the fruits and vegetables.
Eat foods that are high in fiber to help you feel full. Whole grain cereals, legumes (lentils and beans), vegetables, and fruits are good sources of fiber that may help you feel full with fewer calories.
Prepare and eat meals and snacks at home. This is a great way to save money, eat healthy, and spend time with your family. When preparing meals, choose low-fat/low-calorie versions of your favorite ingredients and learn how easy it is to substitute.
1. Switch to 1% or nonfat milk and low-fat cheeses.
2. Use a cooking spray instead of oil or butter to decrease the amount of fat when you cook.
3. Prepare baked potatoes with low-fat blue cheese dressing or low-fat plain yogurt instead of butter or sour cream.
Start by using a scale and measuring cup to serve your food. Read food labels to determine serving sizes. One bowl of cereal may actually be two ¾-cup servings. A small frozen pizza may contain up to three servings (check the nutrition information label). This could add up to more calories than you think you’re getting. Being aware of serving sizes may make it easier to avoid those extra calories.
Choose snacks that are nutritious and filling. A piece of fresh fruit, cut raw vegetables, or a container of low-fat yogurt are excellent (and portable) choices to tide you over until mealtimes. Take these snacks with you for a healthy alternative to chips, cookies, or candy.
Take your time! Eat only when you are hungry and enjoy the taste, texture, and smell of your meal as you eat it. Remember, it takes approximately 15 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full.
If you choose to eat out, remember these important suggestions: Watch your portions. Portion sizes at restaurants (including fast food) are usually more than one serving, which can result in overeating. Choose smaller portion sizes, order an appetizer and a leafy green salad with low-fat dressing, share an entree with a friend, or get a “doggy bag” and save half for another meal.
Forgive yourself. If you occasionally make mistakes, don’t give up! Forgive yourself for making that choice and keep working on it. Eat an extra healthy lunch and dinner if you had a high-calorie, high-fat breakfast. Add more physical activity to your day.
Remember physical activity! Aim for at least 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (children) of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more days of the week. If you are just starting to be physically active, remember that even small increases provide health benefits. Check with your physician first, and then start with a few minutes of activity a day and gradually increase, working your way up to 30 minutes. If you already get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day, you can gain even more health benefits by increasing the amount of time that you are physically active or by taking part in more vigorous-intensity activities.