Thursday, December 4, 2008

Where do I start??? (Question from a reader....)

Dear August,

Where do you start when you have made up your mine to get healthy?

I went and had a physical. That turned out as good as it can, but what healthy places do I start? I went from regular soda, to diet, to one diet like once a week. I try to drink water as much as I can (I hate water). I went from 2% milk to skim milk. I tried soy but was told by my doctor that I should have it because it has natrual estrogenic properties.

I have bad knees. I have a bad back. I just don't know where to start. Can you help?


Dear Briana,

Great question! And kudos to you for making the decision to live more healthfully. I admire your courage, determination and healthy goals! You've taken some terrific steps by cutting soda, increasing water and lowering fat intake. Here are a few pointers to help you along:

- Take an inventory of your current diet. (The form at my nutrition site, may help guide this process.) What are your dietary strengths and weaknesses? What could you do more wisely and what are you struggling with?

- Keep a food journal. Tracking your food and beverage intake, your exercise and your mood and thoughts will make you concious of what you are eating. (This step alone often
leads to healthier eating and lifestyle!)

- Seek professional guidance. Have a nutritionist look at your food journal and help you develop a reasonable dietary plan that builds upon your current habits, desires and goals.

- Make a list of changes you are committed to, such as:
  1. Drink more water.
  2. Enjoy fruit and/or veggies at every meal.
  3. Replace processed carbs (white breads, pastas, cakes, chips and cookies) with healthier carbs (whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice and starchy vegetables).
  4. Avoid or limit alcohol.
  5. Avoid fried foods.
  6. Eat 3 balanced, healthy meals per day and snacks as needed.
  7. Keep a food journal.
  8. Begin exercising at least 3 times per week.
- Set realistic goals and write them down. (If you set goals that are not reasonable, you will only feel defeated and frustrated -- take baby steps in the beginning!)

- Eat simply. Choose simply, healthy foods -- those with fewest ingredients. Shop the perimeter of the store (produce, poultry/fish, dairy...) and avoid the snack food/processed food aisles. Choose foods with few ingredients, and those that sound like food (not substances you'd put in your car or a chemistry experiement! ;))

I hope you find this helpful! If you have any further questions along the way, please send them my way! Wishing you and your family healthy, happy holidays!


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