Tips for a healthier you

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get more exercise or just improve your health?

Michigan is currently the fifth heaviest state in the nation with over five million overweight adults and over 800,000 overweight children. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the state also ranks 15th in the nation for diagnosed diabetes. Choosing to improve your health may not only help you lose weight, but also lower your risk for many chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

In any attempt to become healthier, we often start with deciding to lose weight. This can be a scary thought if you have more than a few pounds to lose. But the Center for Disease Control states that even a modest weight loss of five to seven percent can lower your risk for developing many diseases, including diabetes. A five to seven percent weight loss would be about seven to 10 pounds if you weigh around 150 or about 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.

Tips from Michigan State University Extension to help plan healthier meals and work toward losing weight include:

  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Increase your veggie selection to include colorful choices including orange, red and dark green vegetables. These choices are high in vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.
  • Choose 100 percent whole grain products for at least half of the grains you eat every day. Whole grains are good sources of fiber which will help you feel fuller with fewer calories.
  • Limit your fat and calories by choosing reduced fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meats and plant proteins, including beans and legumes.
  • More ideas for healthy eating can be found at My Plate.

In addition to taking steps to lower your weight, another part of your healthier lifestyle goal should be to increase your physical activity. If you’re not already active, set small steps to achieve a minimum goal of at least 30 minutes of activity, five times a week. The good news is that the 30 minutes doesn’t have to be done all at once. You could do 15 minutes of activity twice a day or 10 minutes of activity three times a day. Don’t let the term” physical activity” stop you from being active. This isn’t just about running, push-ups or aerobics. Fun activities like playing with your children, bowling, skating and dancing count too.

Start with these small steps and gain a healthier life.

For more information about nutrition, diabetes prevention and other issues of interest to Michigan families, contact a MSU Extension educator in your area, either by visiting or calling toll-free at 888-MSUE-4-MI (888-678-3464).

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