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Living Well: Eating well for good health

With spring comes change, so mimic the season and consider adopting some new healthy habits. With warmer weather, you may want to get out and exercise more. That’s great. Add a few new healthy eating habits to the mix and you’ll boost your health even more.

“Take one step at a time for lasting change. Make one adjustment, like giving up soda. Do that for a few weeks, then add another,” suggested Carol Bolt, PA with Memorial Regional Health’s Medical Clinic.

While it might be tempting to dive in and start a whole new diet, take a pause and consider if it’s something you can maintain, rather than just do for a while. If you really enjoy eating breads and pastas and you ban them from your diet, it might backfire.

“If you love carbohydrates and you decide to go on the Atkins diet, it might be hard to stick to it, and you could find yourself yo-yoing on your weight,” Bolt said.

One change could simply be committing to drinking more water rather than juice or soda, or replacing your favorite white starch — like white bread, white rice, pasta, or tortillas — with a healthier whole grain alternative. Also, when grocery shopping, follow Bolt’s advice and shop the perimeter of the store rather than the middle.

“As a general rule, stay in the outside areas where everything is fresh and not processed, like in the produce and dairy sections. Avoid the boxed and canned food aisles. The exception is frozen vegetables, because they are a good alternative to fresh,” she said.

Another easy and healthy dietary change is reducing the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcoholic drinks are not only full of empty calories, but they can cause health issues over time. Also, you could consider packing a lunch on a few work days rather than going to your favorite fast food restaurant. Try it for three weeks and see if you can start a new habit. Or, give up a trigger for sweets, like grabbing a candy bar when you gas up or a cookie when you enter the break room, as eating a lot of sugar can have negative health effects.

“It’s false when people say eating too much sugar can give you diabetes. It can’t, but if you are at risk for diabetes, eating excessive sugar can rapidly increase the onset of diabetes,” Bolt added.

You likely remember the old USDA food pyramid. What you may not know is that it has been replaced with MyPlate, an easier concept to apply to your daily meals (for more go to MyPlate calls for dividing your plate in half, and filling one half with fruits and vegetables. The other half you split between grains and protein.

Allowing the occasional indulgence, or replacing it with a healthy substitute, makes it more likely that you’ll succeed in making lasting change. Before starting a diet or diving in to a lot of changes, consider seeing your primary care provider and reviewing your current eating habits so he or she can help you make a sustainable plan.

So what will it be? Consider your dietary downfalls and pick one habit to start improving upon today. If you’d like to set an appointment with Carol Bolt, PA, or another MRH physician assistant or physician, call 970-826-2400. You can also take the opportunity to come to the MRH Health Fair on April 1 from 8 a.m. to noon to learn more about healthy lifestyle habits.

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