Wellness Wedneday: You are What You Eat!


Replacing unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones can be difficult, especially if unhealthy habits are all you’ve ever known. One key to making lasting improvements in your diet is to make changes in stages. Start with a small, simple change and stick to it for a week or two. After one change has been mastered, add another.

Some Ideas to Get You Started:

• Eat breakfast.

• Replace one sugary drink per day with a glass of water.

• Eat one to two more fruits or vegetables each day.

• Plan a healthy snack for each day of the week.

• Switch to a low-fat version of one of your favorite foods.

• Plan three meals and two snacks every day.

Set an Example! Parents play a big role in guiding their children’s eating habits with the examples they set, the foods they make available in the home and the mealtime experiences that they create for their families. Offer healthy snacks such as fruit, low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt, frozen juice bars, applesauce, celery, apples with peanut butter, raw vegetables, graham crackers, fig bars or whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese. Large portions contain too many calories. A good-sized snack for a typical adult may be a single-serving container of yogurt, but for a preschooler, two or three tablespoons of yogurt is enough.

Make Eating an Enjoyable Activity for the Whole Family! Family meals can be a time to monitor what children are eating and to reconnect with each other. Involve children in food preparation and clean-up, and sit down with them when they eat. The idea is to build healthy lifelong eating habits.

Some healthy eating tips include the following:

• Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables—half your plate at each meal should be vegetables or fruit.

• Beware of sweetened drinks—sodas and sports drinks are high in calories. Keep in mind that the calories in juice can also quickly add up.

• Choose food sensibly when eating out. Restaurants are often required to make nutrition information readily available—if you don’t see brochures sitting out, or nutrition information listed on the menu, ask.

Plan as many home-cooked meals as you can, as they usually have fewer calories, more reasonable portions and cost less than typical meals eaten at restaurants. Since eating out isn’t always avoidable, follow these rules when in a restaurant:

• Ask if you don’t know what is in a dish or the serving size.

• Eat the same portion size you would at home.

• Ask for sauces, gravy and dressings on the side—or avoid them altogether.

• Order foods that are not breaded or fried.

• Order fruit for dessert.

• Ask for substitutions, such as a vegetable instead of fries.

• Ask for low-calorie versions of food. Vinegar and oil or a squeeze of lemon are both better than high-fat dressings.

Sources: http://www.bsi-ins.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/EAT-WELL.pdf

Tips for Success in Planning Your Health Goals

Icon for Health Sign

The New Year brings with it a fresh start in planning your new health goals. Whether it’s changing an eating habit to lose weight or for an immediate health risk, to train for a physical activity or event, or to get into that swimsuit for the first time in years, success depends on sensible and achievable strategic planning.

Here are some tips on planning for your health goal success:

Decide on measurable steps to achieve your goal.

For example, if you are using walking as your physical exercise, how far are you going to walk? For how long? How many days each week are you going to walk? If you are focusing on your nutrition, for example if you are lowering or giving up sugar—how long? How much? During all meals or only during the week.

Track and review your progress each week. Were you able to successfully meet your goals last week? Think about what worked and what didn’t. Then plan for how you will reach your goals next week.

Focus on what’s attainable and relevant to you

Set goals that are within your capabilities and that take into account your limitations. Consider your personal fitness level, health concerns, budget, available time and motivation. Tailoring your expectations to your personal situation helps you set achievable goals. Don’t wait till you can afford to buy a new pair of running shoes or yoga pants, use what you have and make that a mini reward for achieving a milestone in your goal. If you can’t make time to work out side the home or if the weather is not ideal for walking, use your house as a indoor gyms—stairs to carry laundry or toys up and down make a great cardio workout throughout the day. Make everyday an opportunity to be working toward your health goal.

Think about timing

Timing is crucial, often making the difference between success and failure. Choose a definite start date for your health goal and don’t put that date off. Be sure to account for life circumstances that might hamper your efforts, such as work or school demands, vacations or relationship problems. You may need to resolve some issues before starting.

Set both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals keep you engaged on a daily basis, but long-term goals motivate you over the long haul. Your short-term goals are the stepping stones to your long-term goal.

Focus on the process

Make the most of your process goals, rather than outcome goals. For example, ”Exercise three times a week or cut carbs during the week” is an example of a process goal, while “weigh 145 pounds” is an example of an outcome goal. Process goals are easier to plan strategy and see the immediate success of your effort and discipline, while outcome goals can take much longer to see results. It’s changing your processes — your daily behaviors and habits — that’s key to weight loss, not necessarily focusing on a specific number on the scale.

Plan for setbacks

Setbacks are a natural part of behavior change. Everyone who successfully makes changes in his or her life has experienced setbacks. Identifying potential roadblocks — a big holiday meal or office party, for example, and brainstorming specific strategies to overcome them can help you stay on course or get back on course. This is where tracking your progress is vital in strategically planning ahead for known roadblocks and returning back to focus.

Reassess and adjust your goals as needed

Be willing to change your goals as you make progress in your health goal plan. If you started small, you might be ready to take on larger challenges sooner or amp up your efforts if you are not reaching milestone targets. Or, you might find that you need to adjust your goals to better fit your new lifestyle as it changes. Goal setting is a fluid process, and giving yourself the ability to adjust as life develops will set the tone for success.

 What are your health goals? Are you ready to start the journey to a lifetime of wellness? Share your stories in the comments below.