Little Changes Improve Diet and Exercise

Dreaming big is a good thing, but if your aim is to improve your overall health, trying to change everything at once may not be the best approach. Small, incremental adjustments to your diet and exercise routines are more likely to give you lasting results.

Taking a class that interests you at 3D Community Health: Body.Mind.Spirit is one way to identify an area you would like to work on.   

“Making one change at a time gives you a chance to really focus on what you’re doing and make healthful change part of your daily lifestyle,” says Heather Krieger, RD, CD, Clinical Dietitian at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “In comparison, extreme changes to your lifestyle, like embracing a fad diet that cuts out entire food groups, won’t last the rest of your life. Remember, changes to your lifestyle should not be thought of as a quick fix but rather as something you can add to your daily routine.”

Little Lifestyle Changes

If you are looking for small, sustainable ways to improve your health, Krieger encourages you to begin mindfully.

“I tell my patients to take a step back and consider what they’re doing that isn’t working,” Krieger says. “Often I ask patients to write down what they eat for a week, and we’ll go over it to identify what opportunities they may have to improve their health. I think journaling is the first step to making a lasting change.”

Focus on Two Goals at a Time

The next step, Krieger says, is focusing on one or two goals at a time.

“Let’s say a woman keeps a food journal and realizes she drinks soda two or three times a day,” she explains. “Maybe she can start by cutting soda for a month. After that, maybe she’ll reduce the number of processed foods she eats. Eventually, these healthy changes add up and help the woman achieve a healthy lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most important aspect in making a change, Krieger adds, is compassion.

“I have people who come into my office and say, ‘I was bad this month, you’re going to be mad at me.’ I always tell them, ‘No, let’s celebrate your accomplishments and learn what we need to tweak so you can make another change.’ We’re not going to do this perfectly. We’re all human. The important thing is to keep trying.”

 Learn about Prevea Health’s Ideal Weight, a doctor-driven weight-loss program that works.

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On average, an American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, adding 350 empty calories to their daily diet. Most of that sugar comes from soft drinks, candy, desserts, and some grains. Nutrition labels don’t help when they identify sugar or sweeteners by names like dextrose, glucose, sucrose, or high fructose corn syrup.

For a healthy diet, women should consume no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar a day and men no more than nine (36 grams), according to the American Heart Association. If you are looking for an effective way to gradually improve your diet, start reducing products that include added sugar.

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