When changing habits, whether it's eating, activity or other health-promoting plans, realizing the value of making gradual changes is important. You've spent a lifetime developing your current habits if you expect to change all of them overnight, you may be disappointed.
Success is greatest for those who set realistic goals, thoughtfully plan their strategies for reaching their goals, and then break their goals into small, doable steps. Take on one or two challenges, and give yourself time to adjust to the changes. Small changes can turn into new lifetime habits that herald good health.
Plan strategies that will help you overcome your hurdles. For example, if you eat too many high-fat foods and too few fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates, resolve to eat apple wedges, red bell pepper rings or pretzels instead of chips with your noontime sandwich. Change your standard breakfast to fat-free (skim) milk, cereal and fruit instead of doughnuts or pastries. Cut back on the amount of meat you eat by preparing meals that are combinations of vegetables, meat and complex carbohydrates such as mixed rice or pasta dishes. Remember, there's no need to completely forgo your favorite foods. You can continue to eat these foods occasionally.
Once you have control over the problem areas at the top of your list, move on to other areas that you think needs improvement. If even after reducing the amount of fat in your diet, you find that you're still eating a bit too much and consequently weigh more than you'd like to, work to reduce your portion sizes.
Or if regular exercise is a problem for you, focus on increasing your activity level, thereby burning up those extra calories.
Deciding to make changes, whether in your diet, your level of physical activity or your outlook on life, is the easy part. Sticking with the changes is the challenge.
You can do it here's how:
* Decide what is important to you in terms of your health.
* Determine what you can do, what steps you can take to stay well.
* Break those steps into reasonable chunks. For example, if you choose to get your cholesterol level into the healthy range and part of your plan to get there is to eat less high-fat snack foods, then come up with realistic strategies for avoiding chips and high-fat crackers. You may choose to always have a piece of fruit handy at 2 p.m. in the afternoon.
* Check your progress regularly, then make adjustments as needed.
* Stay true to your goal even when your behavior is less than perfect. It happens, and it's okay.
Recognize your successes, and reward yourself for your stick-to-itiveness. Best wishes for good health!
From "Betty Crocker's Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cooking Today." Text Copyright 2005 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This 11-Go Slow For Success recipe is from the Betty Crocker's Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cooking Today Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.
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