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With Dietary Changes, A Little Can Go a Long Way

November 10, 2017

This blog is written in conjunction with Wyndham Bonett and Lee Weber, FSU medical students.  

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re faced with a new challenge. This is especially true with lifestyle changes, like deciding to get in shape. Fortunately, you can do little things every day that together can make a big difference in your health. Here are some of them:

Better Diet, Better Health

Net calorie reduction is the most crucial element of weight loss. Implementing a few life hacks to help with portion control can move you in the right direction:

Smaller is better: One hack is simply to use smaller plates. The beauty of this is that you don’t have to think about your portion size.

Take your time: Slow down when you eat. Besides appearing well-mannered, there are real, scientifically-proven benefits when you take your time to eat. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is getting full. This is because your gut releases certain hormones to tell your brain that it’s reaching capacity. The slower you eat, the more time you give those hormones to make it to the brain, and the more you realize that the smaller plate of food you just ate is actually doing the trick.

Hydrate: Another tip is to have a big glass of water with every meal. Water will fill your stomach, stretch your gut and release more of the hormones that let you know you’re not so hungry anymore.

Keep it simple: Exercising and losing weight are difficult to stick to long term, so when it comes to these two things, simple is best. If your goal is to exercise more, try exercising two to three times a week to start and build from there, since this is more attainable than exercising every day.

If you’re watching what you eat, your first trip to the grocery store may be intimidating. When you’re in the store, skip most of the frozen and processed foods unless it’s frozen vegetables. Also practice the “see no evil” tactic — avoid the aisles that are full of your favorite temptations and it may be a little easier to shop healthy.

Make small changes: Add one or two fruits or veggies to replace an unhealthy snack in your diet. Many people try crash dieting, which leads to weight rebounding and unsustainable results. With this approach, you’ll lose the weight, but gain it right back after you stop dieting. Going slow and steady with dietary changes will help you achieve sustainable good health.

Get support: With any changes, small or large, having a solid support team behind you leads to more successful outcomes. That’s why it’s important to share your goals with those who care about you. When we share goals, it makes us more accountable and allows us to receive constructive criticism that we can enact to improve our health. Your health goals suddenly become a lot easier when those around you have similar desires and plans.

Be strategic about cooking: It’s difficult to be the only one on a diet in your household. It’s even more difficult if you’re the family cook and have to make delicious food for everyone else that’s off limits to you. If this situation sounds familiar, talk to your family and be open about your desire to improve your health. Ideally, they should be willing to adjust their diets to accommodate yours.

If this isn’t an option (and often it’s not), make two meals: one for them and one for you. You could take their less healthy meal and tweak it into a healthier version for yourself. At a minimum, your family should support your journey toward better health and serve as a source of encouragement as you make personal changes.

Whatever goals you set out to achieve, whether they be daily or lifelong, make sure they’re realistic. If you don’t have a plan for how to approach and maintain your goals, they most likely won’t stick. But by making small changes, you can enact your goals more easily, and readily follow through with them. One small change might not do much on its own, but many well-thought-out, incremental changes really do add up.

Recipe of the Day

Whole Wheat Linguine Green Pea Pesto

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