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NewsHome>>News

8 points to keep health habits

2017-09-20

"What's the secret to a healthy diet?" The answer isn't all that mysterious. You just have to keep some basic guidelines in mind, beginning with:


1.Make half of every meal fruits or vegetables.

At breakfast, fill your bowl halfway with cereal, then top it off with berries or sliced banana. At lunch, eat a smaller—or half—sandwich, and add two pieces of fruit. At dinner, make sure your plate is at least 50 percent salad, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, or whatever veggie you choose. This ensures that you get enough nutrients and automatically reduces the amount of fat and calories you consume (provided you don't go crazy with fatty dressings and toppings).

2.Don't eat on the run.

The first problem with grabbing and gulping is that it usually means fast food. And even a smallish fast food lunch (small burger, medium fries, diet soda) delivers around 800 calories—more than the average woman would want to get at dinner. When we eat on the go, our brains tend to register the food as a snack—regardless of how many calories we consume—leading us to overeat at our next meal.

3.The shorter the ingredient list, the better.

Most of the healthiest foods have only one ingredient: Think broccoli, spinach, blueberries, etc. Longer lists generally mean more sugar, more salt, more artificial flavors. More unhealthy stuff.

4.Nutritious food doesn't have to be expensive.

The smart choices cost no more. In fact, there was a potential small savings associated with the healthy selections. And that's without considering such economical options as occasionally substituting beans or lentils for meat, or making a sandwich at home rather than spending money at a restaurant.

5.Take an extra ten minutes a day to prepare healthy meals.

By devoting a few minutes to planning for more nutritious eating, you invest in your own health and that of your family. And when I say few, I mean it: Studies from UCLA suggest that a wholesome home-cooked dinner takes only about ten minutes longer to prepare, on average, than serving processed or ready-made food. If you make enough for leftovers you'll save time in the long run. And don't forget: Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease all lead to doctor and hospital visits—which take a lot of time.

6.Retrain your palate.

As any 5-year-old or picky eater can attest, familiarity is a powerful driver of dietary preference. But taste buds are malleable and can be taught to appreciate new and subtler flavors. When you swap processed, high-fat, sodium-packed, and oversweetened food for healthier fare, it can take one to two weeks before your taste buds acclimate. Don't expect to love new flavors right away (and certainly don't expect your kids to). Just keep serving the new dishes, and soon neither you nor your palate will recall what all the fuss was about.

7.Stop eating before you feel full.

Slow the pace of your meals. Pay attention to what you're eating. And call it quits when you're about 80 percent full. After a pause, you'll likely find that "mostly full" is full enough. Studies indicate that simply by eating at a leisurely pace, you could drop up to 20 pounds a year.

8.You really are what you eat.

The best way to keep your body humming is to eat a well-rounded, nutritious diet. As for better mental acuity—well, you get the idea: Your brain depends on the vitality of your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys (you name the organ) to be in tip-top shape. The best way to bring out your best attributes is to foster your overall health through smart eating—a diet that favors produce, grains, legumes, and lean sources of protein, such as fish and soy.

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