What are you doing to make your life the best it can be? We all know that what we eat and how many activities we do, plays a large role in our overall health. The things we do as part of our daily habits reflect not only our current health, but long-term health as well. The investment that we make early in life with our families, will pay great dividends as we age and have great influence on the lives of our children.
As spring arrives and the weather changes, we can spend more time outside, so here are a few tips to get you to start thinking. Read through them, pick one or two to practice daily and then when you accomplish them and work them into your routine, pick another one. If it doesn’t work, try something else, the challenge is: don’t give up!! Each step brings us closer to being in better health through our activity and our food choices.
** Choose daily activity. As the weather breaks, get outside and move! The goal should be 8,000-10,000 steps daily or at least 30 minutes of brisk activity. Increase the time to 60 to 90 minutes if you want to improve your health or lose weight. Why not turn off the television for two hours a night and find something outside to do: play ball with the kids, give gardening a try or just take a walk around the block with a neighbor. If I have a partner, I’m more likely to continue–so grab and friend, or your family, and go!! This is a great time of year to think about planning a garden, even a container garden to provide some fresh vegetables. Make a scavenger hunt for the kids outside or a match game for them to play at the park or while taking a hike.
** Choose healthy recipes for meals at home. Ask yourself how you can change a recipe to make it better. Maybe it’s just adding more vegetables or decreasing the salt content. Share recipes you like with co-workers and friends – we are all looking for new ideas! Don’t be afraid to try new foods too, adding variety to your meal planning. Plan meals for the week and make a list before you go to the store, both will save you time and money along with increasing the variety in all food groups.
** Snacks - make them count with vitamins and minerals, not just empty calories. Reach for the fruits and whole grains to enjoy the nutritive benefits along with the fiber. Read the labels and watch the portion sizes too! Have foods packaged and easy to grab-and-go for a family on the move. Keep a tote in the car of items ready to eat, for after school or sports activities.
** When dining out, look for selections that are lower in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Sometimes there are indicators on the menu, other times you may need to ask if there’s a nutritive chart available or even look them up online before you go. I know I’ve changed my mind after looking at the calories in a food. Just remember to keep eating a variety of foods, balancing between the food groups and moderation in all foods. For more information, check out https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for many helpful tips to make your meals better.
Every journey begins with a single step, take the first one so that you will have better health and a longer life to share with family and friends. There’s no better time to start than when the sun is shining and there’s a spring in your step!
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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This article was previously published in The Daily Record.