Many factors contribute to a healthy lifestyle – from what you eat to the amount of sleep you get. At Dairy Council of California we believe that making a commitment to being healthy means making the best choices most of the time. Our philosophy is based on patterns and moderation, so if you exercise most days, eat from all the food groups at most meals and find time for rest and relaxation most weeks, you are living a healthy lifestyle. Our solution for how you might get from none to most is to take small steps toward your long-term goals by setting short-term goals.
Assess your activity. How much physical activity do you get in a typical week? How intense is that activity? How much variety do you get in your activity, and how much do you enjoy it? The CDC recommends that adults get at least two and a half hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or one hour and 15 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week.
Repeated dieting can actually lower metabolism and thus make your body retain more of what you put into it. Increasing exercise while not giving your body more food to compensate can also increase body fat storage. Dieting also increases heart disease risk, when compared to simply gaining a little weight. If you really need to lose weight, the most effective way is to increase exercise and cutting only a little food, while concentrating on fruits, veggies, and high fiber foods.
If you skip meals, you’re going to be hungry and more likely to make bad food choices. Many of us skip breakfast and go straight for the morning coffee and muffin break. Café style muffins not only contain around 10 teaspoons of sugar, but more than a fifth of our recommended daily salt intake. If you’re still tempted, why not make your own, that way you know exactly what’s going into them. Savoury muffins are healthier – try our sweet potato and cheddar muffins.
Overall, it is best to eat a diet made up of a lot of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein such as chicken or fish. It is difficult to lead an active lifestyle without eating a healthy diet, because it will be difficult to get enough energy to exercise. Get creative while cooking, and try to make new recipes with healthy ingredients; it is always possible to find new favorite foods. Again, be sure to drink enough water every day, and to try to quit unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive drinking.
At one of your meals today, double the amount of vegetables on your plate and skip the starch. A simple way to do it: Serve stir-fry over a bed of broccoli instead of rice. (Or turn the broccoli into rice!) The florets of the broccoli will soak up the sauce and juices from your dish just like the rice would have. Plus, you have the added cancer-fighting addition of indole 3-carbinol, a potent anti-cancer nutrient found in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage. (Also try making vegetable steaks instead of meat.)
Eating healthy doesn't mean that you need to deprive yourself of delicious flavors and foods. (See: Please Stop Feeling Guilty About What You Eat) Try one of these healthy desserts for a snack that satisfies your sweet tooth or—if you're really dying for that ice cream or pizza—go ahead and indulge in something "unhealthy." (Just don't make it an all-the-time thing.) Life is all about balance, right?
Eating beans regularly is good for your heart, and you don't need to eat a lot of them to benefit. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that having just 1/2 cup of cooked pinto beans a day may help lower cholesterol, thanks largely to their soluble fiber, plus heart-protective flavonoids—the same kind found in chocolate, berries and red wine—which can help lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.