10 Tips to Help You Get (or Stay) Healthy

  1. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Fresh is always better, but frozen is ok, too. Canned vegetables are ok, as long as you rinse them off first. Try to get at least 5 servings a day, which isn’t as hard as it sounds. Examples of one serving are: half a banana or apple, half a cup of any fruit or vegetable, one cup of 100% fruit juice, etc.
  2. Eat breakfast every day. There’s a reason we say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Studies have shown that when you skip it, by mid-morning, your body’s metabolism goes down (which means you don’t burn as many calories), and you also have difficulty concentrating and staying on task.
  3. Don’t be tempted by fad diets or by thinking that skipping meals is the way to lose weight. When your body does not get enough calories and nutrition, it causes your metabolism to go down, which is why you don’t lose weight and you may even gain some. Instead, eat healthy and in moderation.
  4. Do not buy or drink soda. Period. I don’t care if it tastes good or if it’s cheap. I don’t even care if it’s a penny a can. There is absolutely no nutritional value in soda. You might as well eat a cup of sugar or sugar substitute. Also, do not buy junk food like chips, candy, sugary cereals, ice cream, etc. If you don’t have it, you won’t eat it, and neither will your kids. It’s as simple as that. When you or they get hungry, you’ll eat anything, so if you only have healthy foods around, you won’t have any other options.
  5. Get up and move around. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it. Do some crunches or stretches while you’re watching TV. Purposely leave something up or downstairs, so you have to make another trip. Touch your toes 10 times while you’re waiting for the microwave or toaster. Anything is better than not doing anything at all. I once had a patient who weighed 300 pounds and had joint pain due to arthritis, so she couldn’t do vigorous activity. But she still lost 24 pounds over about 6 months, just by changing her diet and moving around more.
  6. Exercise. Try to get at least 15-30 minutes of more vigorous physical activity a day, or at least several days a week. It doesn’t have to be all at once; you can do 10 minutes, twice a day. Exercise can be whatever you enjoy doing: walking, going to the gym, playing basketball or tennis, taking the dog for a walk, etc.
  7. Take 5-10 extra minutes on the weekend (or on your day off) to make a menu of meals for the week, and then you won’t be as tempted to stop and pick up fast food. I know those places are right on the way home, I know it just takes a few minutes and little energy to go inside (or thru the drive-thru), I know the food is cheap. But…grocery stores are usually right on the way home, too. If you have a list, it can literally take less than 15 minutes to go inside and get what you need. There are lots of home cooked, healthier meals that take 20 minutes or less to make. And there are also lots of healthier recipes/ meals that cost under $3 per serving. Here’s an example: grilled cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread with a few pieces of baby spinach and a couple of tomato slices on them, plus corn on the cob. For dessert, mix some frozen cherries with plain yogurt. Voila! Ten minutes and about $2 each! And just like that, everyone also got in 3 servings of fruits and vegetables with just one meal!
  8. Eat smaller portions. According to studies on obesity, the size of our average plates has increased, and the size of restaurant portions has ballooned over the last few decades, as has the number of all-you-can-eat buffets. Doing something as simple as eating on a smaller plate can make a huge difference. If you do eat out, order 1-2 appetizers or something from the children’s menu. You can also ask the waiter right away to go ahead and pack up half your entree, so you won’t be tempted to overeat. And, whatever you do, try to avoid the buffets.
  9. Sleep. Studies have shown that individuals who sleep an average of 6-8 hours a night are usually healthier. If you have a hard time sleeping, talk to your medical provider. They can always give you some healthy tips.
  10. Stay mentally healthy. Be sure to try to take some time for yourself, even if it’s just 2 minutes before you sleep. Doing a quick, 2-minute meditation when you first wake up, is a great way to start the day. By meditation, you don’t have to sit in a specific position and hum. All you need to do is set the timer for 2 minutes, sit or stand, close your eyes, and don’t think of anything at all.