Four Healthy Changes You Should Make This Year

Wednesday, January 01, 2014 8:00 AM comments (0)

healthy changesDo you make a New Year’s resolution every year? How long does this resolution stick around on your to-do list? Many of us start the year with the best intentions only to fall back into our old, unhealthy habits by February or March. This year, make healthy positive changes instead of resolutions and look forward to a healthier year ahead. 

Richard S. Katz, MD, Internal Medicine at NorthShore, shares some healthy changes he would tell all his patients to make this year:

  • Exercise more. Don’t just make a resolution to lose weight again this year. Broaden your overall focus to include a bigger, better change. Implementing a regular exercise routine into your day-to-day life is the single best thing you can do for your health. It boosts your immune system and mood, reduces stress levels, improves heart health and, as a result, you’ll probably lose weight as well.  Your exercise routine should consist of a minimum of 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, plus strength training and stretching.  For example, three days a week of indoor cycling and two days of yoga.
  • Change the way you eat. Don’t try to cut out sweets altogether because you’ll likely overindulge a month or two into the New Year. Instead, focus your attention on your overall diet by eating healthy, well-balanced meals as often as possible. With a healthier overall diet, you won’t have to beat yourself up if you indulge in something sweet every now and then. Make fruits and vegetables the center of your diet instead of meat-based protein. Remember: If it walks on four or more legs, then include it in no more than two meals per week. And, always make sure you keep your portion sizes under control. 
  • Get a yearly physical. Are you seeing your primary care physician every year? You should be. Take the time to make that yearly appointment and do your homework before you get there. Write down any health complaints, research your family history and assemble questions ahead of time. Your doctor can help you better understand what you’re doing right and what you need to improve.
  • Find a way to de-stress. Identify what has your stress levels soaring and find a way to address it. Chronic stress can increase blood pressure, risk of infection and cause headaches, insomnia and more. Finding a way to reduce stress levels can improve both your physical and mental health. Exercise is a great stress reducer and finding a quiet place to sit and breathe can work wonders. Determine something that works for you and make plenty of time for it in your schedule.  In order to handle stress well, we all need seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

What healthy changes do you plan to make this year?

Celebrate a Healthier Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 3:25 PM comments (0)

holiday eatingAre your waistbands a little tighter each year when January arrives? It’s not just your imagination. Studies show that the average American gains between one and two pounds during the holiday season, and up to 14% of Americans gain five pounds or more. This fairly small gain tends to increase body fat percentage, which may partially explain why we often have the illusion of a more significant increase around the holidays. 

Holiday parties, rich holiday food, the cold weather keeping you indoors and holiday stress can all contribute to this seasonal weight gain.  And, though the gain may be modest, for many it could stick around for the rest of the year.

Weight loss doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution this year. Start your year off right with these simple tips from Jeni Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, and enjoy the holiday season full of health and zero regrets:

Focus on maintenance not weight loss. Enjoy the holidays! If you start out trying to deny yourself the food that you enjoy, you’re likely to overindulge eventually. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays; try to maintain your weight. The holidays can be stressful enough without the added pressure of a diet. 

Have a healthy snack before you head out the door. Holiday parties are a great time to catch up with friends and family, but they aren’t the best place to find healthy snacks. When your favorite high-fat holiday fare is on offer, it’s not easy to practice moderation, especially if you show up hungry. Eat a healthy snack before you hit the buffet line to avoid overindulging. If you don’t have time to eat beforehand, grab a small plate and ensure most of it is filled with healthy fruits and veggies. 

Keep moving! The weather outside might be frightful, but don’t let that keep you from staying active during the holiday season. There are many outdoor activities that not only embrace the cold but are big calorie-burners for the entire family, like ice-skating and cross-country skiing (no hills required). Make these family activities and you’ve started a new healthy holiday tradition. Keep it simple, layer up and go for a walk; take the stairs at work before your holiday days off instead of the elevator; do your holiday shopping at the store instead of online. 

Don’t forget your fruits and vegetables. Seasonal fruits and veggies aren’t just a summer thing. Apples, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks and pumpkin are all in season during the colder months of the year, and they can be prepared in a multitude of healthy and delicious ways. Fill your plate and don’t regret it.

Make some small substitutions that make a big difference. Healthy substitutions can make a huge difference when it comes to calories and fat. Use lower-fat ingredients in your holiday cooking to create healthier versions of your favorite holiday foods.  Consider substituting skim milk for whole. In many baked goods, applesauce can replace oil. And the best thing about making these healthy substitutions is that, in terms of taste, you won’t notice a thing. 

How to you maintain your weight during the holidays?

Childhood Obesity – Forming Good Eating Habits

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 9:16 AM comments (0)

Childhood-ObesityWho’s to blame for the dramatic increase in childhood obesity these days—it has more than tripled in the past 30 years according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? While there may be many factors at fault—more junk food and sugary drink options, increased television and computer time, lack of physical activity (both at school and at home) and larger portion sizes—it is important to set a good example to help your children maintain a healthy weight.

The effects of childhood obesity have both short and long-term consequences, which is why addressing the issue before it is too late is imperative. Obese youth and teens are more likely to be obese as adults, and are thereby more susceptible to health problems commonly associated with being overweight (such as: high cholesterol, heart problems, hypertension, etc.)

Goutham Rao, MD, Primary Care Physician at NorthShore offers the following tips for parents to encourage healthy eating, an active lifestyle and a happy child:

  • Eliminate all sweet beverages from your child’s diet.
  • Allow your child to have fast food no more than once per week.
  • Permit no more than two hours total of screen time for your child per day.
  • Eat dinner as a family as often as possible.
  • Take a brisk evening walk with your entire family at least five times per week.

What changes have you made to encourage a healthy lifestyle for your children?

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Have questions about childhood obesity? Join Dr. Rao for a live medical chat on Tuesday, March 27 at 1:30p.m. He’ll answer your questions about how to institute incremental behavioral changes into your child’s every day routine to help with weight loss. Save the date and submit your early questions today.

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