Since we last talked about lifestyle changes, I’ve gotten many emails asking for more examples of these types of changes. So I’ve compiled a short list of 5 lifestyle changes that can help lead to a healthier outcome. Remember, you don’t have to jump right in and do all of these at once, they are just examples.
Replace white flour with whole grain flour
This would mean instead of getting white bread, pasta, bagels, or tortillas, buying whole grain products. There are many marketing terms that companies use to try and trick people into thinking their products are healthy, when in fact they are not (ie…harvest grain, whole grain blend, multi grain). Don’t fall for it. Look at the ingredient list and make sure that the FIRST ingredient is something like “whole grain flour” or “stone ground whole grain flour”. If it is anything else, the product isn’t really whole grain. Whole grain products will leave you feeling fuller for longer, they elicit a lower glycemic effect, and have more fiber and other nutrients than their white flour counterparts.
Stop drinking soda
There is nothing good about sodas. They have very high sugar content, are expensive for what they are (water, sugar, CO2, and flavoring), and can stain teeth. In my experience, replacing soft drinks with water has done the most good than any other change. I do realize that this can be difficult for those who have been drinking soda their entire life, so remember that incremental change works best.
This is a given. Exercise improves health in many different ways. Again, start slow. Walk for ten minutes each day, and gradually increase either the distance or the pace, or both.
Keep a food/exercise journal
Write down everything that you eat for one week. This will help you see exactly what you are eating, as people generally are not very good at estimating how much they eat. This will also help in spotting problem areas or times of the day (ie…drinking a soda with lunch, or skipping breakfast) that you would not have noticed otherwise. This is a very annoying thing to do, but worthwhile in the end.
Cook all your own meals
Again, take baby steps when approaching this goal. Many people are very busy and rely heavily on prepared, processed foods. However, with some time management and innovation, it is possible to prepare all meals yourself. You can try to cook a batch at once, and put it into small Tupperware containers for lunch each day, you can make your own trail mix by mixing almonds, raisins, dark chocolate, and sunflower seeds, etc… the possibilities are endless. Cooking your own meals controls what you are putting into your body.
The Bottom Line
Remember, all of these are lifestyle changes, which may take a while to fully implement; they are not some kind of quick fix. Work towards them incrementally.