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The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health

by Susan Burke March - February 17, 2014 - with 0 Comments

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The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health

We’ve all heard about the runner who dies of a heart attack, or about the eternally fit vegetarian who is struck down by cancer. But take heart – there is one absolute best thing you can do to stay healthy.

Stop smoking!

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death. According to the CDC smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis. For every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, another 20 more are seriously ill.

About 52% of smokers try to quit each year. Sadly, many fail.

Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in America. Research has concluded that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol.

Want to quit? The best advice is KEEP TRYING. Most people will try multiple times before they are able to free themselves from nicotine addiction.

Here are a few proven ways of battling back:

  • Counseling: groups, online, one-on-one – a little help from professionals and friends makes a huge difference in the rate of success.
  • Medications: over-the-counter nicotine replacement products (patches, gums, lozenges) or prescription products such as nicotine inhaler, nasal spray, and medications such as Zyban or Chantix.
  • Electronic cigarettes: this is just a trade-off because some of these are still a nicotine delivery system that’s sending a foreign substance deep into your lungs. I think it’s trading one addiction for another – and it could be a gateway to tobacco use. They’re not regulated and there is no research showing safety.

Fat Friends May Be a Bad Influence!

Did you know that obesity is contagious? Not clinically, but socially! Researchers examined 15 studies from 11 publications to confirm that when people were given information about how others were eating, it influenced their choices, too.

People are more likely to eat healthy when they think other people are eating healthy – and they are more likely to eat junk when they think it’s the “normal” thing to do. 

This piggybacks onto previous research that shows that the more obese friends you have, the more likely you are to become obese.

Experts theorize that if you have a lot of friends with unhealthy eating habits, you are more likely to eat like them, too.

So it somewhat stands to reason that if you want to get fitter, then hang out with some people who are fit – or are also working at getting fitter!

And you can hang out by joining an online group or starting your own group on Facebook or Twitter, or by getting just one buddy to take a walk with you consistently. Join the local gym or “Y” and you’ll find some like-minded people.

By the way, you don’t have to give up your old friends entirely – just find other things to do with them besides eating. I can think of some fun times like bowling, or skating, or even just going to a movie. Some theaters do offer healthy snack options, but you can avoid the cost altogether by sneaking in your own healthy treats!

Can Frozen Entrées Be Healthy?

Are you frustrated with your diet plan because you just can’t find the time to cook? Or maybe you like to cook, but your family demands their traditional favorites, while you’re trying to modify the “same old” to make it healthier!

Convenience foods – specifically frozen entrées – have morphed from yesteryear’s “TV Dinners” that came with unrecognizable meat, gummy mashed potatoes and corn or peas as vegetables into complete and yes, sometimes healthy options. 

There are lots of choices for making weight loss convenient, tasty and even inexpensive. You can be assured that if a product is labeled “healthy” then it will conform to the regulation that it provides a minimum amount of some vitamins such as A or C, and won’t contain more than 480mg of sodium per serving.

Other entrées aren’t so smart. To be a savvy consumer, be sure to read the nutrition facts label. Most of the excess sodium we consume comes from packaged and prepared food. Aim for approximately 2,300mg or less daily. And make sure your choices don’t exceed 700mg per serving.

4 Tips for Eating Quick ‘n Smart:

  • Find Your Calories. Most healthy frozen entrées have between 250-350 calories per serving. If you’re following a 1,500-calorie diet, allot between 250-350 calories for breakfast, and depending on the entrée you choose, and then add in some healthy snacks and meal additions. You can choose from 100-calorie yogurts, whole fruit (a serving has about 60-100 calories), unsalted nuts (one ounce about 160 calories) and all the crunchy veggies you can eat. 
  • Find the Serving Size First.  When you know the serving size, all of the other numbers on the nutrition facts panel make sense. If the package says “2 servings” while the sodium reads “500mg” you’ll be eating a high-sodium entrée if you eat the entire package in one sitting.
  • Find the % Daily Value. The calories from Total Fat should be 10% or less; calories from saturated fat should be 5% or less.
  • Find the Sodium. For a low-sodium diet, choose entrées with 480mg or less; otherwise, aim for 700 mg or less and balance out your day with non-packaged foods and snacks like oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, and unsalted nuts, vegetables and fruits for snacks and desserts.

While buying fresh, whole foods and preparing them daily may be the ideal, it’s not always a viable strategy for us time-starved folks. Frozen entrees, therefore, can be a perfect option for portion control.

Susan Burke March is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who, as chief nutritionist for eDiets, promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.

eDiets Free Diet Profile

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