Feature Articles: Health
Take small steps for big changes
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension
It’s that time of year when commitment to the New Year’s Resolutions set months ago may be waning. Don’t lose heart. There are small changes you can make that will help keep you on track to end this year healthier than you were at the beginning:
- Pay attention to the calories in your drinks. According
to a Tufts University publication, Americans get 21 percent
of their daily calories from what they drink. Remember that
all you really need in the form of fluids is water and it has
zero calories. Milk can be an important source of calcium. Be
sure to choose fat-free or 1 percent milk to save fat and calories.
Limit sugar-sweetened beverages. They add calories and provide
no nutrient value.
- Fill up on a variety of fruits and vegetables. They
are generally low in calories and are packed with disease-fighting
nutrients. People who consume 4½ cups of fruits and vegetables
every day are less likely to be obese than people who don’t.
- Be physically active. Exercise can help burn calories
and contribute to an overall feeling of well-being. Aim for
30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. No time?
Try exercising in 10 minute increments throughout the day. It
all adds up to healthy benefits.
- Eat breakfast. Eating in the morning gives your body
the energy it needs to get going for the day. Eating breakfast
can help control hunger so you don’t overeat later in the day.
- Be a smart snacker. Snack foods can be high in fat and calories and low in nutrients. Choose foods that pack a strong nutritional punch. Fresh fruits and vegetables can fill you up without adding too many calories. Apples, bananas, carrots and celery are easy to pack for a quick on-the-go snack. A turkey sandwich made with one slice of whole wheat bread or whole wheat crackers with provolone cheese may be just what you need to help make it to the next meal.
If you just add one of these new habits every two months you will have made five very healthy changes during the year. You’re bound to feel great when you’re thinking about making next year’s resolutions.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services promotes healthy habits in the Small Step campaign. If you go to www.smallstep.gov, you will find additional ideas for small steps that you can implement to achieve better health and fitness.
Last update: Wednesday, March 02, 2011