by Aynsley Anderson Sosinski
Eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity are key strategies for staying well and reducing the chance of developing several chronic diseases. According to 2018 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, 34.4% of Kansans are obese and 34.3% are overweight. Having excess body weight is a risk factor for developing diseases including coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and several types of cancer.
Many Americans are interested in making nutrition, physical activity or other changes to reduce their risk and lead a healthier lifestyle. Start small by setting reasonable goals that will lead to personal success. Then gradually keeping working towards where you want to be. Setting achievable goals will lead to lasting change.
LMH Health wants to help you eat healthier and reach a healthy weight. Sign up for “Why Weight? A Weight Management Coaching, Support and Education Small Group.” This six-week group will support and educate you about healthy eating and provide successful weight management strategies.
The group meets from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesdays from March 24-April 28. Space is limited, so enroll today!
March is National Nutrition Month. Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this month provides an opportunity to develop and work towards maintaining healthy eating and physical activity practices. This year’s theme is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.”
Here are ten ways you can make small, sustainable changes.
- Include healthful foods from all food groups on a regular basis. Aim to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with small servings of lean protein sources and a healthy grain such as brown rice, quinoa or another whole grain. You may also have a serving of low fat or fat-free dairy or dairy alternative, such as soy milk. Limit foods that are high in sodium and saturated fats. Other healthy eating plans recommended by nutrition experts include the Mediterranean or the DASH eating plans. Read the latest version of Dietary Guidelines for Americans at dietaryguidelines.gov.
- Hydrate healthfully. Drink more water and other sugar-free beverages like tea or sparkling water. Limit sugary drinks such as sodas, energy drinks or specialty coffee drinks, as well as drinks with artificial sweeteners.
- Learn how to read Nutrition Facts labels. This can help you make wiser chooses when selecting foods to buy or eat. Read more about the label at fda.gov.
- Practice portion control. Find out the amount of calories recommended for your age, gender, activity level and personal goals, such as weight loss. Using recommended portion sizes is a key strategy in helping people lose and maintain weight. Many apps can help you design a personal healthy eating plan. Check out the MyPlate App at choosemyplate.gov.
- Take time to enjoy your food. Mindful eating means eating slowly and without distraction, listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you are full. Mindlessly eating can lead to excess food intake and weight gain. Sharing meals with others can make mealtimes an enjoyable experience.
- Plan meals and make a grocery list based on your plan. Stick to your list when shopping and don’t shop when you are hungry. These strategies can help you to avoid purchasing foods that you don’t really need or want in your pantry.
- Plan ahead for healthy eating at home, work, school and while traveling. Knowing the nutritional content of restaurant menu items by visiting their website or asking for a menu item breakdown can help you select wiser choices. Making lunch at home and taking it to work or school can also help you eat healthier. Keeping healthy recipe ingredients on hand in your pantry can help you prepare healthier meals for both you and your family, especially when pressed for time.
- Use good food safety practices to decrease the risk of foodborne illness and food waste. Visit foodsafety.gov for more information.
- Be physically active most days of the week. Find exercises or activities that you enjoy so you will continue to be active. Almost everyone can exercise in some way, even those who may have limited mobility or abilities. Adults should aim to get a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity. You should also participate in activities or exercises for strength, flexibility and balance a few times each week. Learn more about recommended physical activity guidelines at health.gov.
- If you are trying to make food or other lifestyle changes, get support. Consult a registered dietitian or certified nutritionist, a certified wellness coach or a certified exercise professional.
Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org), American Heart Association (heart.org), and the American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org) for more information about healthy eating and recipes.
Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, NBC-HWP, is a wellness specialist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of Lawrence Journal-World’s health section. She is board certified by the Mayo Clinic and the National Consortium of Health and Wellness Coaches as a wellness coach.