Changing Your Diet and Increasing Exercise Levels are Beneficial for Your Health
Diabetes is much more prevalent in African-Americans than other groups of people, and unfortunately if you already have diabetes you are also much more likely to develop heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
Over the last number of weeks we’ve been looking at why this is the case, and this week I want us to think about how you can make healthy lifestyle changes to keep in top condition!
If you remember last weeks article, I discussed how managing your ABCs (A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol levels) could help prevent health problems.
This week I want us to consider exactly how you should go about doing this.
You may think that changing what you eat and increasing your exercise levels will have very little effect on your health, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The good news is, you don't need to make massive changes either, in fact taking baby steps, and creating habits for life, is the best thing you could do for your long-term health.
15 Point Healthy Lifestyle Checklist
To make things easier for you, I’ve put together a checklist so you can make lifestyle changes, which will help control or prevent diabetes and heart problems.
Remember, don’t try to change everything at once. Instead, choose a few things you think you can manage right now, then come back to the list at a later date and make some additional changes:
**Check off each bullet point as you make each change successfully**
- I will eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- I will eat less fat, especially saturated fat, trans fat, hydrogenated oils, lard, and shortening.
- I will regularly choose lean meats and healthy meat substitutes, such as dried beans and peas (kidney beans, soy bean, chickpeas), lentils, and tofu.
- I will get healthy fats from olive or canola oil, nuts, avocados, and oily fish (1-2 times each week) for example fresh tuna, salmon, or mackerel.
- I will use baking, roasting, or grilling, rather than frying foods most of the time.
- I will focus on getting lots of fiber into my diet, from healthy foods such as oatmeal, oat bran, fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas.
- I will make sure I am not eating too much salt—maximum of 6g per day.
- I will choose water and other low-calorie drinks, rather than sodas, juices, and other sugar-laden drinks. I will also try to control my alcohol consumption (no more than 1 to 2 drinks per day).
- I will watch my calorie and fat intake by cutting back on sugary, fatty junk food, such as potato chips, cookies, cakes, and full-fat ice cream.
- I will control my portion sizes—healthy plate proportions are ¼ meat or alternative, ¼ carbohydrate, ½ vegetables or salad.
- I will try to be more physically active—aiming for at least 30 minutes, 5 times each week.
- I will take my medications at directed by my doctor.
- I will quit smoking.
- I will try to maintain a healthy weight.
- I will continue to monitor my ABCs—A1C (try to maintain below 7), blood pressure (below 130/80 mmHg), and cholesterol (HDL men: above 40 mg/dl, HDL women: above 50 mg/dl; triglycerides: below 150 mg/dl; and LDL: below 100 mg/dl).
Do you struggle with healthy eating or weight loss? Get your free ebook on how to break bad habits by visiting the award winning Dietriffic.com. Authored by registered dietitian, Melanie Thomassian.