Simple dietary lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for many dangerous health conditions
Millions of adults and children in the United States are overweight or obese. Excess body fat increases the risk of many diseases and conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, gall stones, breathing problems and certain cancers.
Although genetics and metabolism are factors that contribute to your weight, lifestyle habits and dietary choices also play a major role. Fast-food restaurants and pre-packaged meals may be a quick way to grab something to eat but, by paying more attention to the foods you put into your body, you will reduce your risk for many dangerous health conditions. Here are five easy ways to make your diet healthier:
- Drink more water. Water not only helps you stay hydrated, it helps you cut calories and might help you resist the urge to snack mindlessly. While most things are fine in moderation, sodas and fruit juices can have far more sugar and calories than you think they do. If you aren’t a fan of plain water, try adding lemon or a sprig of mint for added flavor.
- Grocery shop with a list and avoid the center aisles. Grocery shopping while you’re hungry is never a good idea because you’ll wind up with impulse buys that you don’t really need. Take inventory of your fridge and pantry before shopping and bring a list with you. Fresh produce, dairy and meats are located on the outer aisles and around the perimeter of the store–while the majority of high-calorie, high-fat processed foods are found on the inner aisles.
- Plan ahead. If you like healthy foods but find yourself reaching for chips or heading to fast food restaurants out of sheer convenience, start planning ahead. Wash and chop fruits and veggies a few times per week and place them in storage containers in the fridge. Make a weekly meal menu, hang it on your fridge and stick to it!
- Make low-calorie substitutions. If you love sour cream on your baked potatoes and creamer in your coffee, you don’t have to give them up entirely. Switch to low-fat sour cream and try skim milk in your coffee instead. Salsa is a great substitution for high-calorie salad dressings and dips.
- Don’t stress. You don’t have to go crazy with measuring cups or start shopping exclusively at the organic health food store to improve your diet. Instead, try to eat a variety of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you overeat at a party or on a holiday, don’t beat yourself up and don’t allow one day of overindulgence to keep you from getting back on track!
It’s a good idea to discuss major dietary changes with a health professional. You will be pleased to know that Denton Regional Medical Center has more than 300 physicians offering expertise in over 40 specialties. To find a physician near you, use our online search feature or call 1-855-477-DRMC.