8 ways to a healthy lifestyle


Jyotsna Sharman

It's February.

You made a New Year's resolution to adopt a healthier lifestyle. How is it working out?

If you're on pace, keep it up. But if you're struggling – picking pizza over Pilates or snacking late and missing breakfast – we have some help to get you back on track.

First of all, don't skip breakfast. That's a no-no.

"Skipping breakfast makes your body think no more food is coming, so it becomes conservative and slows metabolism, or burning of calories," said Jyotsna Sharman, a registered dietician and assistant professor of nutrition at Radford University. "And if you have a meal later, your body continues to stay in that mode and tries to conserve all the calories instead of burning them."

If you really want to skip a meal, skip dinner, Sharman advises.

Guiding and motivating individuals to live healthier lifestyles is part of Sharman's everyday routine. And, as a professor in RU's Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics (DNPD), she is one of the four Registered Dietitians in DPND who prepare the program's students for varied careers in the field of dietetics.

Improving your health through nutrition isn't easy as pie, but it is doable, Sharman says. Below are eight ways she says you can begin living healthier today and not be a New Year's resolution drop out.

Put a number on it
"Whether you are trying to lose some pounds, eat more of healthy foods, eat less of unhealthy foods, or start an exercise program, put a number on it. That way, you will dramatically improve your chances of achieving your goals," Sharman said. "It is better to set measurable goals, such as losing a pound a week, eating five servings of vegetables every day, or walking a mile a day."

Think small
"Don't underestimate the power of small changes," the professor said. "Drinking eight ounces less soda every day will reduce your calorie intake by at least a 100 calories. This small change could lead to losing 12 pounds a year. Sticking with small goals will also increase your self-efficacy."

Face your fear
"No food should be taboo. Enjoy your favorite foods once or twice a week, but watch your portion sizes," Sharman explained. "Eat consciously, enjoying and relishing every bite of that food to increase your satiation."

Spice it up!
"Instead of using cheese or creamy sauces to enrich your food, enhance taste and flavor by using calorie-free herbs, seasonings or lemon juice," she said. "Experiment with new herbs to discover your likings. Most herbs also carry digestive and healthful properties; so enjoy those benefits, too."

Plan ahead and snack smart
"Avoid dining out and eating on the run," Sharman said. "Do not wait until mealtime to decide what you would like to eat. You will invariably end up at a fast food joint or a vending machine and may not make the best choices. Plan ahead and pack healthy snacks such as baby carrots with hummus, whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese, boiled eggs, low-fat yogurt with chopped fruit, nuts or turkey and chicken sandwiches."

Shop after meals
"This will help you avoid purchasing trigger foods like chips, cookies or doughnuts," she said. "Not having those snack foods in the house will gradually reduce temptation, too."

Do not drink calories
"This is the easiest way to gain weight," said Sharman, referring to drinking sugary drinks. "A big bottle of sweetened drink will easily pile 300 calories on you. You may take a spoon or two of sugar in a cup of a hot beverage like tea or coffee, but a cup of soda could easily have up to eight spoons of sugar. Frozen soda has even more sugar, and so does ice cream."

Feb 10, 2015