Emphasize the Positive: Small Changes Add Up
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Small changes can add up to positive differences when it comes to healthy living. Whether you're trying to eat smarter or are determined to move more, small lifestyle changes—made one-by-one, and sustained over time—are likely your best tactics for progressing toward and maintaining your personal health and wellness goals.
Small Changes, Positive Results
Big goals, sensible strategies, small changes—what’s the difference?
- Goals (dropping ten pounds or lowering your blood cholesterol level) are desired outcomes. Such goals may seem daunting, and you may not know how to get started.
- Strategies (fitting in more veggies and eating more whole grains) provide a general roadmap to reaching your goals.
- Small changes (adding broccoli to a pizza, switching to whole-grain crackers, choosing one scoop of ice cream instead of two) are actions you take to put your strategies into motion and work toward your personal health or wellness goals.
Small changes are easy to start, easy to live with and easy to integrate into everyday life. Achieved one at a time, each small, positive change can take you one step closer to your goals.
Change of Plate
Smart eating promotes wellness and also helps lower or manage diet-related health risks. These small changes are positively easy and positively delicious.
- For better breakfasts ...
- Drink a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk, and get its calcium and vitamin D benefits.
- Sweeten French toast, waffles or cereal with sliced fruit instead of sugar or syrup for less added sugars.
- Scramble 1 whole egg and 1 egg white, instead of 2 whole eggs, for less cholesterol, but plenty of protein.
- Make a quick morning parfait by layering berries, yogurt and whole-grain cereal, instead of skipping breakfast and missing out on a nutrient-rich "refueling."
- For pack-and-go lunches ...
- Switch to whole-grain pitas, tortillas or bread for a fiber boost.
- Tuck spinach, grated carrots or roasted red peppers into wraps and sandwiches to fit in more colorful veggies.
- Pack an orange, apple or banana in your lunch sack; one more way to fit fruit in.
- Buy "less salt," ready-to-heat soups for less sodium, and single-serve canned fruit in juice for less added sugars.
- Toss your salad with two tablespoons of dressing, not a ladleful, to help manage fat and calories.
- For quick snacks ...
- Pack a nutrient-rich portable snack: combine dried fruit, nuts, whole-grain crackers and popcorn (a whole grain).
- Portion snacks on a plate (instead of eating from the package), to control how much you are eating.
- Snack on cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, grapes or tangerine slices for nutrient-rich finger foods.
- For home-cooked dinners ...
- Divide your plate into sections: 1/2 veggies and/or fruit, 1/4 grain foods and 1/4 lean protein foods (meat, poultry, fish, tofu or beans).
- Make less look like more. Put smaller portions on a smaller plate for fewer calories.
- Sprinkle toasted almonds on salads for better-for-you fats and more fiber.
- Top baked potatoes with salsa instead of butter for less fat and calories.
- Add cooked or canned beans (red, kidney, black) to soup, salad, pizza and pasta sauce for more fiber and lean protein.
- Switch to darker greens in salads for vitamin A and more nutrients.
- Serve stir-fries with brown rice instead of white rice for more whole grain.
- For sweet desserts ...
- "Flip" your dessert for more fruit and less fat and calories: instead of a sundae, top nutrient-rich berries with a small scoop of frozen yogurt.
- Substitute dried cherries, cranberries or raisins for chocolate chips in baked foods to fit more fruit in.
- For smart beverage choices ...
- Drink low-fat flavored milk or drinkable yogurt as a snack beverage for more calcium.
- Quench your thirst with cold water (flavored with fresh citrus slices or a low-calorie powdered drink mix) instead of regular soda for fewer calories.
- Skip the cream and opt for fat-free milk in hot or iced coffee or tea for less fat and fewer calories. Dust with cinnamon for extra flavor.
Get Moving: Step It Up!
Step up to active living: at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days, or better yet, every day; the goal is at least 60 minutes for children and teens. Make small changes, doing what you always do—but with a little more action. Every 10 minutes of physical activity counts toward your active living goal over the course of a day.
Start with a "mini" goal—add just 500 more steps daily. Get a pedometer to count for you. Each week try to take 500 more daily steps than in the week before ... until you reach 10,000 steps a day.
Try these small changes so you can step up to wellness.
- At home ...
- Walk your "phone talk," instead of lounging as you talk.
- Stretch, dance or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.
- Walk and play with your dog—instead of just watching him or her move.
- Set aside 10 to 15 minutes for active chores: clean a few windows, dig weeds, run the vacuum cleaner.
- Away from home ...
- Turn your coffee break into a 10-minute walk with a co-worker.
- Take the stairs, not the elevator or escalator.
- Walk on moving sidewalks at the airport.
- Walk the sidelines while watching your kids play soccer or softball.
- Park at the far end of the lot and walk the mall, instead of moving your car.
Start your journey toward better health and wellness with small, positive changes you can live with every day.
This Healthy Living recipe shows how delicious small changes can taste.
Peanutty Stir-Fry Salad
Prep Time: 20 min.
Makes: 4 servings
||cup KRAFT Light CATALINA Dressing
||cups cut-up assorted fresh vegetables (green peppers, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, zucchini)
||lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
||cup chopped PLANTERS COCKTAIL Peanuts
||Tbsp. lite soy sauce
||pkg. (8 oz.) torn mixed salad greens
HEAT dressing in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add vegetables; stir-fry 3 min. Add chicken; stir-fry 5 min. or until done.
ADD nuts and soy sauce; stir-fry 2 min. or until vegetables are crisp-tender and mixture is heated through.
SERVE over salad greens.
Shortcut: Substitute 1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen stir-fry vegetables, thawed, for the cut-up fresh vegetables.
Dietary Exchanges based on Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes ©2008 by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association.
This delicious low-calorie main-dish salad is a good source of vitamins A and C from the vegetables. It also includes peanuts, which can fit in a sensible eating plan because the fats they contain are mostly unsaturated. Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overdoing on calories.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: 270 calories, 12g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 50mg cholesterol, 590mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 8g sugars, 26g protein, 25%DV vitamin A, 40%DV vitamin C, 6%DV calcium, 10%DV iron.
Exchange: 1/2 Carbohydrate, 1 Vegetable, 3 Meat (L), 1-1/2 Fat