#TryItTuesday: Spring Clean Your Health
When we think of spring cleaning, we typically think of cleaning our homes. But what about our health? Freshen up your healthy living with these simple tips:
Eat More Fruit and Vegetables
According to the food pyramid dietary guidelines, adults should eat between five and seven fruits and vegetables a day. Tips for reaching this goal:
- Breakfast: Top your cereal or yogurt with a banana or fresh berries. Add 4 ounces of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice to your meal.
- Midmorning snack: Try an individual-sized container of applesauce, five to six baby carrots/celery sticks, a small handful (¼ cup) of dried fruit or a piece of fresh fruit.
- Lunch: Try adding vegetables like tomatoes, spinach or cucumbers to your sandwich/wrap and have one cup of hearty vegetable soup or small side salad with low-fat dressing.
- Dinner: Frozen vegetables make a quick side dish or make a meal out of a microwave-cooked sweet potato.
- Dessert: Savor a frozen treat made from 100 percent juice or place ½ cup of berries, peaches, or other favorite fruit on low-fat frozen yogurt.
Get More Physical Activity
The best exercise is the one you’ll do, so choose an activity you enjoy and aim for 30 to 45 minutes a day for five days a week. If you are new to exercise, slowly increase the frequency, duration, and intensity in small increments. If you miss a day, pick up again the next day, but still try to meet your weekly goal. Looking for more ways to work in activity during your day?
- Wear a pedometer/wearable device to track your steps.
- Walk or bike to your destination.
- Exercise at lunch with your workmates, family or friends.
- Go dancing with your spouse or friends.
- Take a 10-minute stretch/walk break at work.
- Plan active vacations rather than only driving trips.
- Use a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching TV.
- Use stairs rather than an elevator.
Get More Sleep
Most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Studies have shown that if you lose even an hour just for one night, your alertness decreases by up to one-third. Try to go to bed within 30 minutes of the same time each night and try to wake up at about the same time each day – even on weekends. A before-bed routine can help you relax and prepare your body for sleep.
- Try a hot shower with a favorite, scented body wash.
- Follow your tub time with reading a relaxing book or listening to soothing music.
- Put on a pair of socks before you hop in bed: According to a Sweden study, the blood vessels in the feet naturally dilate as the body begins to relax, and warming your feet facilitates the process.
- Set the thermostat to about 65 to 68 degrees.
- Close the blinds to block out light.
Cut Saturated Fats
Saturated fat is the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol. LDL cholesterol turns into plaque that hardens, narrowing arteries and making them less pliable. Saturated fat is found mostly in beef, veal, lamb, pork, lard, butter, cream milk, cheeses and other dairy products.
- Trim all visible fat from beef and poultry, and remove the skin from poultry before eating.
- Bake, broil, or grill meat dishes instead of deep-fat frying.
- Avoid fatty gravies and sauces.
- Switch to 2 percent or 1 percent milk, and perhaps eventually to skim milk.
- Use the low-fat or skim-milk versions of ricotta, cottage or mozzarella cheese.
- Use yogurt instead of sour cream in dips and toppings.
Make changes gradually to avoid feeling deprived. For most people, enjoying a rich dessert or a prime rib once in a while is not going to significantly affect their cholesterol level as long as a low-fat diet is followed most of the time.
It is better to splurge once in a while than to cheat a little bit each day.