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Column: Turning healthy choices into habits

in Health

By Tiffany King

Living a healthier lifestyle relies on a foundation of making informed food choices, developing sound physical activity plans and healthy eating habits.

Tiffany King, DNP, FNP-C, APNP is a board-certified family nurse practitioner at Ascension Medical Group at Westwood

Here are some of recommendations to help anyone turn healthy choices into habits:

PICK FRESH FOODS Summertime is when most fruits/vegetables are in season. That means that you can buy fresh produce at a much cheaper price than you would pay in the winter. Stock up on these nutritiously dense fruits and vegetables throughout the summer. These produce items are also low in calories and high in vitamins/minerals, which helps keep your body functioning well.

ENJOY YOUR FOOD, BUT EAT LESS Use a smaller plate, take smaller portions, ask for a to-go box and pack away half of your meal right away while dining out or share a meal with someone.

RETHINK YOUR DRINK Drinking water instead of sugary drinks such as energy drinks, juice and soda can help you manage your calorie intake. On average a 12-ounce soda = 10 sugar packets.

LEARN WHAT’S IN FOOD Study the ingredients list on the nutrition fact labels. The foods listed first are the foods with the highest concentration in that food.

BE ON YOUR GUARD AT THE SALAD BAR Although salad bars are becoming less popular you can often find them at dining courts, grocery stores, hospitals and restaurants. Be careful when picking foods on a salad bar because while some are great — like veggies, toppings like bacon, fried noodles and croutons can really add the fat and calories. Opt for fat-free and low-fat dressings.

MAKE DESSERT SPECIAL Save dessert for a special night or choose a piece of fruit or yogurt parfait to satisfy your craving. Cut back on foods high in sugars, salts and solid fats like ice cream, candy and sweetened drinks.

GET OUTSIDE One of the best things about summer is the longer days and the warmer weather. You can often find lots of activities that get you moving outside. Any type of activity that you can do outside can count toward burning calories.

GET PLENTY OF REST With the longer days during the summer, we often want to do more things and end up getting less sleep. But sleeping is the one time your body gets to relax, rebuild and recharge for the next day. Don’t short yourself the amount of time you sleep. Try to get to bed at a decent time and aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. When it comes to weight loss, getting adequate rest will help your body lose weight.

AVOID LATE NIGHT SNACKS If you are getting adequate sleep and going to bed earlier, you are often able to avoid late-night snacking. This is such a stumbling block for people and often people end up eating empty calories. If you want to decrease your calorie intake to lose weight, you should hold off on eating a few hours before bedtime. Often people have cravings for unhealthy food items and overeat during the late-night hours. You can avoid this temptation entirely by going to bed earlier.

Tiffany King, DNP, FNP-C, APNP is a board-certified family nurse practitioner at Ascension Medical Group at Westwood, 1901 Westwood Center Blvd. in Wausau. For more information, visit ascension.org/wisconsin or call 715-355-9775.

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