Life Times Newsletter

Fall 2006
Vol. 8, No. 4

Your path to optimum health: A balancing act!

Damaris Karanja, MA
Nutrition & Health Education Specialist

How do you feel? Are you as healthy as you can be? Does it seem like it is harder to make healthy choices and stick to them?

    How often have we told ourselves weíll start making better choices after the holiday season is over? Most times we mean what we say because we really do want to be healthy. Yet sooner or later we fall back into unhealthy habits.

    Healthful eating is much more than a diet. The path to good health isnít the same for everyone. To travel down your personal path, take small steps that are right for you.  A healthier you is not about what you deny yourself. Rather, itís about choices (in your daily food and physical activity) and balance (making room in your life for what makes you happy and health).

Here are some tips for helping you achieve a healthier you:

Set small achievable goals.
Determine whether you want to lose weight, lower cholesterol or blood pressure, feel better, or set a better example for your family. Your nutritional goals should work
    towards incorporating variety and moderation, taking into account both the kinds of food and the amounts of food you eat.
Eat 100 fewer calories each day.
The following examples will get you started on the right path:

 Skip the butter on your roll
    ∑ Limit yourself to one roll
    ∑ Choose reduced-calorie vinaigrette dressing instead of regular creamy-type dressing
    ∑ Substitute a salad with low-fat dressing for fries at a restaurant
    ∑ Choose skim milk and fat-free yogurt
 Use mustard instead of mayonnaise on your sandwich
    ∑ Use non-stick cooking spray instead of butter or oil
    ∑ Eat half your portion of dessert
 Use light syrup on pancakes
    ∑ Select grilled chicken instead of fried
    ∑ Choose a vegetable or chicken noodle soup instead of a creamed soup
    ∑ Eat 12  baby carrots instead of a 1-ounce bag of potato chips for a snack
    ∑ Eat a bowl of cereal with skim milk instead of a sweet roll for breakfast
    ∑ Replace butter with sour cream on your baked potato.

    Balance calories and activity.

Eating100 extra calories per day leads to a gain of approximately 10 pounds per year, while 2,000 extra steps (about a mile) per day burns approximately 100 calories. Remember: Small steps can reap big rewards. Take a few more steps, eat a few less calories. Watch your portion sizes to ensure you are not taking more calories than your body needs since extra calories are converted into weight gain. Visit to determine how many calories are right for you.

    Make physical activity part of your lifestyle.
  Add 15 minutes of activity to your daily routine, whether it's walking, playing with the kids, swimming, or another activity you enjoy.
  When given the choice between walking or driving, choose walking.
  Each weekend day, spend an hour doing something physically active, like gardening, hiking, playing a sport, taking a fitness class.
  Find an activity you enjoy, and chances are you will stick with it.
  Visit for more ideas to increase physical activity.

    Use the buddy system.
Buddies provide encouragement and can be co-workers, spouses, friends or your pet!

Source:  Diabetes Life Lines. (Fall 2004). University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Available at:

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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller