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1. Never Eat While You Watch TV
You get home from work, make dinner, and watch a few episodes of Game of Thrones while you enjoy your meal. Sounds harmless enough, but according to Mayo Clinic experts, this could cause you to gain weight. One reason:
Since you aren’t moving, there’s a good chance you’re sipping or nibbling on something without thinking about how much you’re eating. That’s why they recommend establishing a rule of no TV or “screen time” (that includes smartphones, tablets and computers!
) while eating. You’ll focus on your food more and be less likely to overeat. Another rule they recommend: Only spend as much time watching TV as you do exercising. In other words, if you go for a 30-minute walk, you can have half an hour of TV time. This will help get you off the couch and moving more.
2. Eat “Real Food” Most of the Time
Chances are, you’ve heard the buzz surrounding the movement to eat more whole foods. And Mayo Clinic experts agree: Eating “real food” (or food that’s closest to its natural state) is healthier for you and your family.
“Real food,” which includes fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat, is packed with nutrients. Processed foods, on the other hand, have fewer healthy nutrients and can be loaded with added fat, sugar, calories, and salt.
Processed foods include many boxed, frozen and fast foods. Mayo Clinic experts recommend limiting processed foods and filling your diet with as many fresh foods as possible. “I was very pleasantly surprised to learn how to cook healthy foods and realize that adding spices to flavor healthier foods helps them satisfy me more than the sugar- and carb-loaded diet I used to crave,” says Jan, a 55-year-old who lost 81 pounds on the Mayo Clinic Diet.
If you do use prepared food products, choose items with the fewest number of ingredients and check the Nutrition Facts label to make sure the product isn’t loaded with excess sugar, salt, fat, and calories.
3. Set Realistic Goals You Can Commit to Right Now
Drinking water does more than just quench your thirst — it’s essential to keeping your body functioning properly and feeling healthy. Nearly all of your body’s major systems depend on water to function and survive. You’d be surprised about what staying hydrated can do for your body.
Here are just a few important ways water works in your body:
- Regulates body temperature
- Moistens tissues in the eyes, nose and mouth
- Protects body organs and tissues
- Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Lubricates joints
- Lessens burden the on kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products
- Helps dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them accessible to your body
Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements, which is why it’s important to continue to take in water throughout the day. For your body to function at its best, you must replenish its water supply with beverages and food that contain water.
Mayo Clinic recommends this minimum daily intake of water:
- Women — 11.5 cups
- Men — 15.5 cups
By consuming the minimum recommendation of water, you’re helping your body function better and improving your overall health. Read tips and a recipe if you have difficulty drinking enough water daily.
For more information about ways to consume more water and find out if you’re getting enough for your body’s needs, talk to your health care provider.
Getting a sufficient amount of water in daily is a common struggle that I, and often others, have. In fact, not drinking enough water can become a difficult habit or pattern to break. Changing this pattern requires me to constantly be mindful of my water intake during the day. I have had to utilize different strategies to improve my water intake, as I don’t often feel thirsty, so I can’t rely on that to prompt me.
I have been working on the challenges that deter me from getting enough water. One big challenge I have identified is getting enough water in during a workday versus a day I’m not working. I find that I get busy and tend not to take the time to hydrate, so I have been using these strategies to help me improve my water intake:
- Use zero-calorie water flavor enhancers. Liquid flavor enhancers travel well and are convenient.
- Add variety by drinking zero-calorie sparkling water with or without flavoring, or infuse water with fresh fruit, veggies and herbs. See recipe below.
- Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator (flavored, infused or just plain filtered).
- Use a water bottle to have water available at all times and to help you track daily intake.
- Drink with a straw or a water bottle with a spout, as it may help you increase your intake.
- Drink one glass of water after every bathroom break and before meals.
- Set a goal to drink at least one bottle of water on the drive to work and another from work.
- Sip water during workouts.
- In the winter, ice water can make you feel even colder, which may hinder your intake, so try occasionally skipping the ice or opting for a warm drink, such as caffeine-free tea or sugar-free hot cocoa.
- Keep daily records to track and be mindful of water intake during the day, or if you prefer, use a water reminder app, which will send a reminder and track your water intake.
- Eat foods that contain higher amounts of water, such as melon, cucumbers, celery and broth-based soups.
- Drink a glass of water while you wait for your coffee to brew, or set a rule to drink a glass of water before a second cup of coffee.
A few more strategies that I have not yet tried, but might be helpful:
- Use a smart water bottle and app that sends information directly to your cell phone.
- Add crushed red pepper to your food, as the spice will increase your need for water, and studies show peppers boost your metabolism.
- Make ice pops by blending fruit, almond milk and water together and pouring into freezer molds.
- After brushing and rinsing your teeth, make it a habit to drink a glass of water.
- Trade your vitamin tablet in for vitamin water drops to help with getting another glass of water in.
- Set deadlines and aim to drink a certain amount by 10 a.m., midday, 2 p.m. and evening, for example.
- Create water intake challenges with friends and colleagues.
- Set your cell phone alarm as a reminder.
- Freeze lemons, limes or other fruit for use in place of ice cubes.
- Drink hot water with lemon and/or herbs at night before bed.
Along with utilizing these tips, try motivating yourself with frequent reminders of the health benefits that are associated with staying well hydrated, including:
- Water is important in order for every single cell in the body to function properly.
- The digestive system functions better with adequate hydration, preventing constipation.
- Water aids in flushing toxins from the body; promotes good kidney function; keeps your joints and muscles lubricated; supports healthier, younger-looking skin; and helps to regulate body temperature.
- Staying hydrated can help ward off headaches and migraines, as dehydration can be a factor.
- If you frequently feel tired or fatigued, it may be due to inadequate intake of water, as fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration.
- Water can aid in preventing bad breath by flushing away food particles and bacteria
- Water can aid with weight loss. Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals will reduce your tendency to eat more, and adequate hydration can help the body break down and burn fat at a faster rate.
3 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 strawberry, sliced
3-5 cucumber slices
Combine all the ingredients in a large glass. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
See additional recipes and resources to help you lose the weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Arlene Hrdlicka is a registered nurse in Weight Management Services in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.