Two reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released in June 2016, indicated that obesity among women and children are not declining. The reports suggested that 38 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of teenagers are obese – the survey conducted included 5,400 individuals. People were deemed overweight, by the report, if their BMI exceeded 25. Individuals who are obese have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. With saying that, ‘how to be healthier’ is an evident problem in the U.S. The issue of having a healthy diet is coupled with stereotypes that individuals have to starve themselves or unable to eat foods that they like. However, that is not the case.

While you shouldn’t be drinking soda with every meal or consuming doughnuts for breakfast every morning, eating and drinking those items in moderation is the key. For example, sweets can be part of a healthy lifestyle – small amounts or eating sweets a few times a week is completely okay. In a WebMD article Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Menopause Diet, The Gladiator Diet, and The Goddess Diet said, “Some choices are better than others. You have to know the consequences before you make the choice.” In other words educate yourself and be conscious of the foods you’re putting into your body. While you may think that you know how many calories are in your favorite candy bar or even what a serving size actually is, it’s important to do the research in order to really know versus just assuming. “It takes a week to lose two pounds,” said Gillespie. “Yet you can eat [those two pounds] on in a day. If you keep telling yourself not to eat something, you will just get in a cycle of hopelessness and eat things you don’t need.”

For example, Dr. Gillespie offered her snack tips as a prime example of how you can still eat what you want and be healthy. Gillespie caved into her chocolate craving by microwaving some chocolate sauce and dipped strawberries into the chocolate. Molly Kimball, RD, a sports nutritionist at Ochsner Clinic’s Elmwood Center in New Orleans said some of her weight-loss clients report that they need one sweet thing to nosh on each day. Kimball advises them that it’s okay to have a sweet snack each day, but to try to keep the treat under a hundred calories because that will not make or break you. She also recommends, to her clients, not to indulge in a sweet craving that is a 100 percent sugar because it can create more cravings – which will take individual’s on the downward spiral of over eating.

How to be healthier can be somewhat overwhelming because you think that you know the ins and outs, but the reality is the average individual does not. To stay on track, without giving up the foods they like, individuals should try to incorporate a few lifestyle changes.

  • Exercise! No, taking the stairs once in a while does not count. Many experts recommend taking at least 10,000 steps daily. Download a walking app or purchase a pedometer so that you can monitor how many steps you’re actually taking.
  • Don’t eat quickly. Allow your digestive hormones to cycle through your food. Oftentimes, individuals report that they feel stuffed after eating because they didn’t give their body the opportunity to properly digest the food – causing them to add on unneeded pounds.
  • Eat more often. Eating more frequently will keep your digestive hormones active before they get out of control and cause you to be very hungry. You’ll find that small snacks will also keep your metabolism at a higher speed. Keep in mind these small snacks need to be healthy snacks – nuts, fruits, veggies, or other items high in protein.
  • Reduce your portion sizes. Try this – instead of eating your usual plate full, halve everything on it. This means you’re not allowed to go back for seconds either. You’ll find that your stomach will adapt to your new healthy lifestyle sooner that you think.

Aside from proportions and eating in moderation, another way to eat healthier is to look for alternatives to unhealthy ingredients. Switching up your everyday cooking methodology can greatly impact your calorie account. Here are a few quick changes that you can make – in fact, you probably weren’t aware of the negative ways these items can impact your health.

  • Olive Oil and Butter Alternative – Instead of using olive oil or butter to prepare foods, check out alternatives such as avocado or coconut oil. Olive oil and butter contain saturated fats that are not healthy for you. Like olive oil, avocado oil contains omega 3 fatty acids, which are considered good for the heart. It also contains plenty of monounsaturated fats that raise HDL cholesterol which is good and lower LDL cholesterol which is bad. It can be used anywhere olive oil is used. It is especially good in vegetable dishes, soups, and salads, where it enhances the flavor with its buttery taste. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is a type of saturated fatty acid that raises the HDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. It can be used for baking just about anything. You would use coconut oil just like olive oil, in quantities equal to the olive oil used. It is completely vegan, ant tastes a bit like vanilla - it forms a solid at room temperature.
  • Alternative Sweeteners – Sugar is the most common sweetener for coffee and tea.
    Adding too much sugar to your coffee and/or tea can add to the unneeded calories of your everyday diet. If you’re sweetening iced coffee or iced tea, try sweetening it before you chill it or use a liquid sweetener, such as honey, agave nectar, and simple syrup. Honey is a very good option to sweeten your drinks and there are several different types of honey to choose from as a healthier option opposed to sugar. Clover honey is the most popular, in part because of its relatively neutral flavor profile. Tupelo honey has a buttery, mellow, smooth flavor that is exceptional for tea. Many coffees can take on the bolder flavors of wildflower honey.

It’s important to explore the options to becoming a healthier human being. With the right amount of research and dedication, you’ll be able to identify simple ways you can still eat foods that you like without giving them up completely. Keep in mind, there will be options that you do not like; however, keep seeking out different options in order to find which one fits you best.

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