Tips for Healthy Eating

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Drink plenty of water. Aim for about eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Fruits and vegetables contain water and can contribute to your daily water intake.

Eat breakfast every day. People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day. Breakfast also gives you energy and helps you think and learn.

Choose whole grains more often. Try whole wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice, or bulgur.

Select a mix of colorful vegetables each day. Different colored vegetables provide different nutrients. Choose dark, leafy greens such as kale, collards, and mustard greens, and reds and oranges such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and tomatoes.

Choose fresh or canned fruit more often than fruit juice. Fruit juice has little or no fiber.

Use fats and oils sparingly. Olive, canola, and peanut oils, avocados, nuts and nut butters, olives, and fish provide heart-healthy fat as well as vitamins and minerals.

Eat sweets sparingly. Limit foods and beverages that are high in added sugars.

Have low-fat, low-sugar snacks on hand at home, at work, or on the go, to combat hunger and prevent overeating.

Eat three meals every day instead of skipping meals or eating a snack instead of a meal.

If you need to lose weight

Losing as little as 5 to 15 percent of your body weight over 6 months or longer can do much to improve your health. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, losing 5 percent of your body weight means losing 10 pounds. Losing 15 percent of your body weight means losing 30 pounds. A safe rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Try some of these ideas to support your weight loss efforts:

  • Keep a food diary.
  • Shop from a list and shop when you are not hungry.
  • Store foods out of sight.
  • Use a smaller plate with smaller servings.
  • Eat at the table with the TV off.
  • At restaurants, eat only half your meal and take the rest home.
  • Take a different route if you regularly pass by a tempting fast food place.
  • Expect setbacks and forgive yourself.
  • Seek support from family and friends.
  • Be realistic about weight loss goals. Aim for a slow, modest weight loss.

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Easy snack ideas

  • low-fat or fat-free yogurt
  • rice cakes
  • fresh or canned fruits
  • sliced vegetables or baby carrots
  • dried fruit and nut mix (no more than a small handful)
  • air-popped popcorn sprinkled with garlic powder or other spices
  • low-sugar cereal

Getting active

You do not have to be an athlete to benefit from regular physical activity. Even modest amounts of physical activity can improve your health. Start with small, specific goals such as walking 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week and slowly build up from there. Keep an activity log to track your progress.

Try these activities to add more movement to your daily life:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make sure the stairs are well lit.
  • Get off the bus one stop early if you are in an area safe for walking.
  • Park the car farther away from entrances to stores, movie theatres, or your home.
  • Take a short walk around the block with family, friends, or coworkers.
  • In bad weather, walk around a mall.
  • Rake the leaves.
  • Visit museums, the zoo, or an aquarium. You and your family will walk for hours and not realize it.
  • Wash the car.
  • Take a walk after dinner instead of watching TV.

Are you ready to become even more active?

As you become more fit, slowly increase your pace, the length of time you are active, and how often you are active. For a well-rounded workout plan, combine aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening exercises, and stretching (Check with your health care provider first if you are over 50 or have any health problems).

Do at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity on most or all days of the week. Add muscle-strengthening activities to your aerobic workout two to three times a week. To reduce the risk of injury, do a slow aerobic warm-up, then stretch before aerobic or strengthening activities. Follow your workout with a few more minutes of stretching. See WIN's brochure Walking-A Step in the Right Direction for stretching exercises.

Aerobic activity is any activity that speeds up your heart and breathing while moving your body at a regular pace. If you have been inactive for a while, you may want to start with easier activities such as walking at a gentle pace. This lets you build up to more intense activity without hurting your body.

Regular aerobic activity can help to:

  • Reduce weight. Aerobic activity burns calories, which helps to reduce body fat.
  • Prevent heart disease and stroke. Regular aerobic activity can strengthen your heart muscle and lower your blood pressure. It may also help lower cholesterol, a type of fat in your blood.
  • Maintain strong bones. Weight-bearing aerobic activities that involve lifting or pushing your own body weight, such as walking, jogging, or dancing, help to maintain strong bones.
  • Improve your outlook. Aerobic exercise relieves tension and decreases stress. As you get fit, it can help to build confidence and improve your self-image.

Choose aerobic activities that are fun. People are more likely to be active if they like what they are doing. It also helps to get support from a friend or a family member. Try one of these activities or others you enjoy:

  • brisk walking
  • jogging
  • bicycling
  • swimming
  • aerobic exercise classes
  • dancing (square dancing, salsa, African dance, swing)
  • playing basketball or soccer

Strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing push-ups or sit-ups. Besides building stronger muscles, strengthening activities may help you to:

  • Use more calories. Not only does the exercise burn calories, but having more muscle means you will burn more calories-even when you are sitting still.
  • Reduce injury. Stronger muscles improve balance and support your joints, lowering the risk of injury.
  • Maintain strong bones. Doing strengthening exercises regularly helps build bone and may prevent bone loss as you age.

Strengthening exercises should focus on working the major muscle groups of the body, such as the chest, back, and legs. Do exercises for each muscle group two or three times a week. Allow at least 1 day of rest for your muscles to recover and rebuild before another strengthening workout (It is safe to do aerobic activity every day).

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This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health Web site http://www.nih.gov

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