Ten Small Changes to Impact your Health in 2012

Changes

Twenty five or so years ago I was asked to speak at a women’s luncheon about dietary changes one can make to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Here it is again, a little better for wear after all these years and a bit tweaked from some lessons learned.

1. Slow down eating and chew your food well. Chewing is the first stage of digestion and it makes the job alot easier on your digestive organs if you thoroughly break it down first. The more you chew, the slower you eat, the more enzymes you secrete, the more nutrients will be absorbed from your food, and the list of benefits goes on …

2. Have regular meal times and practice good habits of sitting down to eat so you have more energy for good digestion and nutrient absorption. Regular meal times keep cravings reduced and provides fuel for our metabolism and daily activities. The more we practice good habits around food and eating the more they become a part of our daily routine. Plus you have the added benefit of setting an example for your children.

3. Eat more veggies including a variety of roots, leafy greens, cruciferous, tubers, squash and herbs. It is the one food group that offers the most diversity and the greatest range of health benefits. When you select from all of these categories regularly, you maximize nutrition and health benefits. Challenge yourself to prepare a new vegetable every week, and let them take up more space on your plate.

4. Look at food in a different way. Focus on the quality of food rather than its caloric status. Too much focus is on weight loss rather than on eating healthy and fresh. The bonus is your weight will drop off and stabilize. It’s a lifestyle change. You may discover you have energy and vitality you never had before. ” Eating clean” provides good health and ideal weight.

5. Stock your pantry with healthy food so when you get a craving you are prepared with healthy snacks to satisfy that craving. One healthy choice begets the next healthy choice and then pretty soon you have a healthy habit. Some of my favorite healthy snacks are apples and peanut butter, hummus and celery and trail mix. Having said that, sometimes a bite of chocolate is the best cure!

6. What’s your sugar intake like? Take a serious look at how much refined sugar, derivatives and sugar substitutes you consume and set some goals to begin eliminating them from your diet. White refined sugar is addicting and extremely bad for you. Do yourself a favor and cut way back or eliminate it altogether. It’s a process that’s worth starting.

7. Eat more whole grains and legumes. Whole Grains are a complex carbohydrate that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Legumes offer many healthy benefits, and when cooked correctly provides an easily digestible source of protein, absorbable nutrients, supports thyroid function, balances blood sugar levels and regulates hormone activity.

8. Keep moving….I am in my late 50’s and have been through numerous “seasons” in life. Some seasons have provided time to run miles and miles but I am well aware that sometimes life gets crazy busy and exercise is the first thing to go. At times like that I say to myself…keep moving… walking, stretching, biking, a workout video, cleaning, gardening, snow shoeing…whatever. When you move you breathe deeper and that helps your organs get more oxygen. Exercise is great for the entire body, mind and soul. Whatever the season…keep moving.

9. Go light on the salt shaker and give your taste buds an opportunity to taste the real flavor of food. The older we get, the more likely we are to develop high blood pressure as our blood vessels become less elastic as we age. Having high blood pressure puts us at risk for stroke, heart attack, heart and kidney failure and perhaps an early death. Salty food gives way to sweet cravings so if you’re trying to eliminate sugar, cutting back on salt eases that transition.

10. Be committed to the long haul rather than expect quick fixes. It takes time for your taste buds to change and enjoy the natural flavors of food. Don’t be hard on yourself and expect too much too soon but don’t give up so easily either. Maintain perspective; be informed so you can continue to make healthy choices. Don’t let this process control you with an overemphasis on food. Put food in a healthy place, remembering there is so much more in life to enjoy !!!

This list is very general and may bring up more questions. Please feel free to ask and I will do my best to respond.

Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year from our clan to yours-

Amy

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18 Comments on “Ten Small Changes to Impact your Health in 2012”

  1. Thanks for the helpful words of wisdom! You’re a testament to the results of walking the talk!

  2. Love this! Lucky to have been raised by you…and had an awesome example set for me! However, I need to be cutting back on the sugar these days!

  3. I love this list and have purposed to eat more vegetables and have half of my plate filled with veggies. Now that I am in Vermont, I am enjoying more root veggies and different ways to cook them,

    I would like to add two more to your list.

    #11 – Control your portion sizes. Use a smaller plate for your meals and recognize what a serving consists of (like a portion of meat is no more that the size of your hand.)

    #12 – Drink lots of water. All too often we drink coffee, tea and soda but miss getting the hydration we need from water. Also when we are feeling hungry, we might want to drink water to not only fill up but also to slake our thirst.

  4. Amy, you are so on target with all your proposals for healthier eating. While none of it is brand new to me, I still need those reminders. Actually the variety of ner vegetables is amazing and they come in all colors and shapes so that makes for an attractive plate. Thanks for being a voice for good health. You yourself look great so you are a walking example of the benefits.

  5. Beccy and Cary, thank you for your comments. These are things I keep coming back to and being reminded is a need of mine as well. It’s an ongoing process!

  6. Being pregnant, people are always saying that I can eat anything I want to! Thanks for reorienting me to the best way to help my little guy start out healthy 🙂

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