Baby Steps for Better Health?

baby steps

Hi folks,

This is Hemi, founder of Fooducate. I’ve been invited to speak at Stanford University next week at the Mobile Health 2012 Conference.  The theme of this year’s conference is Baby Steps for Big Change. The underlying assumption, backed by various evidence, is that Big leaps in behavior change often leads to failure. Note that the majority of people who go on diets are back to their original, if not higher weight within a year.

In preparation for my talk, I’d love to tap into some crowd wisdom, and ask you about your experience in improving your personal health. Please take a minute to jot down your thoughts in the comments section below, or email me at blog at fooducate dot com.

Here are the questions:

What specific practical actions have you taken in the last few years to improve your health? Were you able to maintain these actions over more than one year?

Is there a specific food / beverage you took out of your diet? Was it abrupt or over time?

Are there specific foods / beverages you have slowly incorporated into your diet?

Are there food swaps you have made in order to lower sodium/sugar/fat ?

Are you using technology to help you (health websites, calorie counters, mobile apps, etc…)

Have you learned to cook? Cook new foods?

What other small steps have you taken to be healthier?

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  • Dmadrigal_17

    Since I’ve had my kids I changed my diet basically for out health but of course I’ve seen changes in mu waistband, over the years I tried different diets, pills, etc and they never worked in the long run. What I’ve done i basically eat how I feed them, changed everything I could to whole grain, bread, pasta, flour, rice, etc. I’ve reduced the amount of fat when cooking, stopped drinking juices when having a meal and changed it for water, I’m very conscious now of quantities and quality of food and products, your app has helped me a lot with that. Also when I crave for something sweet I go online for recipes for heathier versions of cookies, muffins and bake them at home. I changed cow’s milk for almond, regular salt for sea salt, cero soft drinks

  • yulaffin

    1.  Went on a low carb diet.  Started slowly in 2006 and went stricter in 2011.
    2. I eliminated breads and pasta (pretty much anything made from grains), starchy vegetables like corn, peas and potatoes, most sugar (I still eat dark chocolate).  Started off just reducing consumption of these foods but by 2011, I had stop eating them altogether.
    3. More salad greens, almond flour, coconut flour, erythritol, no salt spice blends, teas.
    4. I don’t add much salt when cooking and I don’t use as many processed food products as I used to.  Switched to sweeteners like Splenda, erythritol and Truvia to replace sugar.  I don’t avoid fat – I look for full fat products in the store (but nothing with trans fats).

    5.I know how to cook, I just don’t like long involved recipes or processes.  I have a bunch of standby recipes that are easy to throw together and I look through recipe websites and cookbooks to find new ones to try.

    6. Yes, I use a website, Calorie Count, to keep a daily food log.

  • Guest

    Beginning August 2011, I met a friend who encouraged me to
    join a gym and join the boot camp program of that gym.  I can honestly say that is the best thing I
    ever did.  I learned how to exercise,
    which is something that I never knew how to do. 
    For the first while, I didn’t really change my eating habits.  I did cut back on eating fast foods and I also
    drank fewer sodas.  However, a couple of
    months ago I started logging the food that I eat using “MyFitnessPal”.  That was a huge eye opener.  Serving size was a huge factor that I never
    really considered.  I’d read the label;
    eat however much I want, and think “it’s ok, because it’s only 100 calories”.  Of course, it wasn’t ok when you eat the
    entire package that had 4 servings in it (400 calories!).  Also, it showed me how badly I really was
    eating.  Every few days I would make
    excuses like “I haven’t had a soda in awhile, I can have one today” which is
    fine, except that I had one the day before and the day before and I just never
    realized how many I was drinking.  I have
    been keeping up a healthy exercise and diet for quite a few months now,
    although not quite a year.  There have
    been good weeks and bad weeks, but I still haven’t stopped.  I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to
    live an unhealthy lifestyle again. 
    Exercise and better foods make me feel wonderful.  Since beginning this journey, I have lost
    about twenty pounds and over ten percent of my body fat (and still going!).

    I do not believe in completely taking out foods
    forever.  Although I don’t drink sodas
    regularly, sometimes I will treat myself to one.  Personally, if I take something entirely out
    of my diet, that is all I crave.  So,
    instead, I just stay away from that particular food/drink for awhile, and then
    will allow myself to enjoy it from time to time like once a month, or once
    every other week.  Instead of taking
    foods and drinks out of my diet, I focus more on control.  There will be times when you go to work or
    school, and everyone wants to order a pizza. 
    It isn’t the end of the world to partake in the pizza, as long as you
    control your portion sizes and don’t partake in the pizza every single day that
    week. 

    I have incorporated protein shakes (GNC 100% Whey Protein)
    and lots and lots of water.  Before
    exercising, I didn’t drink much water.  I
    have also started buying fish for dinner instead of crispy chicken.  I cook fish for myself and chicken for my
    husband.  Also, those little bags of
    vegetables that you can steam in the microwave I found are so nifty! 

    I haven’t really swapped because my previous lifestyle was
    so incredibly unhealthy that I would not call it “swapping”.  Literally, I was eating out three times a day. 

    MyFitnessPal and Fooducate have both been great tools for me
    on my way to a healthier lifestyle.  I
    don’t think I would have been nearly as successful as I have on my
    journey. 

    I haven’t really learned to cook.  I work full time and go to school full time,
    so I do good to pop some fish in the oven for dinner.  I’m honestly proud that I take the time out
    to do that now!  However, I will be
    graduating soon, and I am pretty excited about having time to learn how to
    cook.  

  • Jg_Stroud

    Great questions, Hemi. I think, based on personal experience, that your assumption above is correct. I’m not technically on a diet, but I’ve seen no positive changes in my overall health or weight over the last 5 years that I’ve been adjusting my eating habits.

    Four years ago, I gave up artificial sweeteners and switched to tea. Two yeas ago I switched to water. Every couple of weeks, I’ll split a full-sugar 12 oz. can of soda with my son when we have pizza for dinner.

    I’ve removed basically everything I can’t pronounce, and try to stick to the “no more than 5 ingredients” philosophy. No more hydrogenated fat, nitrates, or other strange additives that are so often featured here on Fooducate. Most of the time. I don’t force the issue on the rest of my family; I provide plenty of choices at each meal so that no one complains about being deprived, even if they don’t particularly like what’s for dinner. And we frequently cheat for dessert, but most of those are homemade.

    I tried at one point to use technology to keep track of calorie counts on recipes and daily logs, but it was just too much. You almost have to have a computer in your kitchen, or a phone in your hand all the time, or paper/scales/wrappers all over the counter and it’s just too much confusion. There’s still an incredible amount of conflicting information out there online and an astonishing lack of credible, comprehensive, research-backed answers that are easy to find.

    I cook virtually everything from scratch, and we eat planned leftovers. We try new foods sometimes, but it has to pass muster over three meals to become a permanent addition to the grocery list.

    Food swaps are hard. The stuff you read by “experts” and nutritionists makes it sound easy, but if it doesn’t taste good, who are they fooling? Recently, one suggestion I saw was swapping walnuts in place of croutons on salads. Really? Another better one was swapping non-fat plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. It seems that replacing fat with sugar and chemicals, or replacing sugar with chemicals cannot logically be better for your body than the original version. A couple of food swaps that have worked for us were buffalo for most red meat, and free-range chicken and pork for supermarket.

    I have to say that I was really expecting more results from the changes I made. I’m sort of disappointed. And hungry. Salad is not very filling for very long. Which is probably another reason why diets don’t work.

  • Jill D

    I haven’t lost weight, but I have ended head aches and body aches.  I stopped drinking soda, regular or diet, I stopped eating regularly at fast food, I started cooking whole foods.  I learned, through your site, how bad some of the ‘healthy’ snacks are and stopped eating them.  But none of it was a conscious “big moment” decision, just getting educated and trying to make healthier choices.  When I noticed that my aches were gone, and my pocket book was a little healthier also, I was motivated to maintain the choices.  

  • Amy D.

    I signed up for a CSA share. I eat a TON more leafy greens than I used to, because I don’t want the turnip or beet tops to go to waste. I also buy more local produce because my CSA pickup location is the farmer’s market.

    I stopped drinking pop (abruptly) about 7 months ago. I still want a Diet Coke every time I see one, though.

    I’ve slowly incorporated more whole grains into my breakfast routine. I stopped buying boxes of cereal and instead make muesli with oats, nuts, and dried fruits.  I eat the muesli with yogurt. I also learned how to make steel cut oats and make them about once a week.

    I haven’t made any particular food swaps. Loseit.com and Dailymile.com help me track my food and fitness.

    One last small step: my office is on the 3rd floor of my office building. I found myself taking the elevator a lot. To encourage myself to take the stairs again, I got some small stickers and put a sticker on my wall calendar every time I take the stairs. It’s a little, silly thing that actually increases my motivation to take the stairs.

  • Angela

    I’m not sure if this can be defined as a practical action, but I quit my job in order to improve my healthy.  I reduced my stress level and completely ended my diet coke a day addiction because there was no more free soda in the lunch room.  I stopped eating lunch out almost everyday.  I haven’t lost any weight likely because I had a baby, and I’m not eating low-cal.  But, I don’t put junk in my body anymore.  Sometimes I think drastic behavioral or situational changes are ok if you know you’re not walking into the same exact thing.  Even if you get just a month break in between, you can regroup and reassess.  So, if I was to go back to work (instead of being a stay-at-home-mom), I could ease into it and watch for the indicators of stress that lead to bad eating, soda consumption, etc.  Baby steps are good and leaps have their purpose too.

  • http://www.trade-schools.net/blog/author/Jen-Johnston.aspx Jen

    I’ve cut out diet soda, and I’ve never been a drinker of regular soda. I have also  started to focus, not only on a more “whole” diet, but also a more varied one.

    I’ve cut back on eating out, even when there are “healthy” options available. This means that my family and I try to avoid chain restaurants with overly processed foods.

    In light of spending less on restaurants, I’ve been able to spend more on groceries. This allows for the incorporation of more organic and natural foods.

    All of these small steps have helped to make me feel better, plus I don’t find I get sick as often.

  • Cured No Thanks To You

    I’ve stopped paying attention to stupid opinionated misinformation from quacks and charlatans like here at fooducate. Now I eat anything I please whenever I please and I look and feel great. Orthorexia is a terrible mental disorder. Obsessing over food, feeling guilty about food, acting like you know more about food than you do — those stupid things wear you down, tempt you to binge and make you fat and miserable. One good “baby step” would be for FDA to stomp on cockroaches like fooducate. Then go after the other nutrition frauds.

  • Yosoycrisbelen

    1. I started changin some habbits a few months ago, so a year has not pass. I’ve chosen to buy as little prepared sauces, rices, etc as possible and do my own, fresh. i feel I’m still a long way from being healthy, but this is way better than how I used to eat.
    2. I’m trying to eliminate sugar, granulated sugar, completely. But I still don’t like my coffee without it. I do drink tea much more often (at least 2 cups a day) and I’m taking it with a little honey now. It’s an overtime thing. I feel that if I just try to cut it out all at once I’ll fail.
    3. I’ve started eating broccoli. I want ot incorporate seaweeds in the future, but it’s a big step.
    4. yes, I go to fast food joints some times (not more than twice over the course of a month) but I don’t fry at home anymore. Non of my meals are fried (which was mostly how I used to cook).
    5. I don’t like calories counters they make me feel preasured, but I do like stumbling upon new recipes online now and then. Sometimes it’s dissapointing because I don’t live in the US and I can’t always find everything the recipe asks for.
    6. I’ve learnt a lot in the past year living on my own with my husband and I’ve also learnt to trust my instincts and experiment more in the kitchen.
    7. I’ve decided to buy organic whenever I can (not so easy here in argentina, there aren’t whole foods supermarkets) and try to do at least one vegetarian dish a week.

    hope this helped, good luck! 

  • Kthrow

    1.  I lost 25 lbs on weight watchers and kept it up for 18 mths, but the last few months I have fallen into a slump, plan to get back in the groove when school is out
    2.  I cut fast food completely out of my diet, been great!
    3.  Added more raw veggies, chicken, teas
    4.  Have turned to Weight Watcher food items vs traditional, i.e., frozen treats, cookies just to curb that sweet tooth
    5.  Addicted to Fooducate and I subscribe to several blogs promoting healthy lifestyle
    6.  Cooking still a struggle
    Good luck with your presentation!

  • Helen

    For me it’s been a gradual thing over several years of giving some things up and taking other things on. Most of these changes have been  abrupt in effect, although the overall process has been gradual. In rough chronological order:
    -giving up caffeinated coffee, then switching from black tea to herbal
    -doing more exercise, taking up yoga
    -switching mostly to whole grains/eating fewer processed foods
    -lowering my cholesterol intake
    -getting a CSA veggie box
    -getting on board with the ‘five a day’
    -cutting out processed carbs (white flour, sugar) altogether, and lowering carbs overall
    Dramatic health changes I’ve noticed: after switching to whole grains I noticed that I stopped getting sick anywhere near as often, and when I do, it’s much less severe: and cutting the processed carbs altogether seems to have resulted in a dramatic decrease in food cravings (have only been doing that for two weeks though, so don’t know how that will pan out long-term).
    I haven’t found tracking apps helpful at all (sorry): the most helpful ‘system’ I’ve found is using the weight watchers points method (which lends itself to ‘guestimation’, which suits my way of doing things) to keep an eye on calories. And even that I don’t do on line. I think online systems are more helpful if you buy ready-made food: if you cook yourself from basic ingredients then you have to do a lot of math to calculate the nutritional value of what you’re eating. I do sometimes use online resources to find out the nutritional values of basic ingredients.
     

  • http://twitter.com/SoGoodtv Heather Johnston

    The biggest practical action I’ve been able to take and sustain is to only buy meat/poultry/eggs/milk that is organic or at least without hormones, antibiotics, etc. Not cheap, but I’m extremely consistent with this. Ditto produce from farmer’s markets and organic, but that has been a tad harder. And I try to use organic tomato products. For years I’ve only used olive oil or canola oil to cook, and butter sparingly. 

    I can’t say there is one food I completely removed from my diet, but I never eat fast food burgers anymore. The occasional egg mcmuffin if I am traveling and desperate, but that is it.  And the amount of soda, or even “healthy” bottled drinks is way, way down. Like monthly, rather than daily or weekly. 

    I can’t think of anything I added, except Vitamin D supplements, farro, and polenta. Working on quinoa. And more eggs. They are the best. 

    Food swaps, I add vegetables and reduce meat to various sauces, i.e. half the ground beef in spaghetti sauce, with mushrooms as a replacement. I also add a vegetable to as many things as I can think of. Shrimp scampi is now shrimp scampi with zucchini, etc. That way you can cut down on the other stuff that is less desirable.

    I don’t really use technology for anything but recipe research and nutritional information. 

    I’m a professional cook and food blogger, so I cook very well. What I do differently is cook even more. A few years ago, I would order or eat out 2-3 times a week, now it is 2-3 times a month at most. The family sits down together at least 5 out of 7 nights a week. I’m also talking up cooking more in my work as a healthy habit. Big difference. And I’m always cooking new foods as a recipe developer. 

    A recent small step is to sleep more and exercise more pleasantly. I now walk rather than run, too many injuries, never really got that runner’s high. I also have cut back on my sugar intake in my tea (my addiction) by one cube. I drink juice almost always diluted with water. And I am not so pained by standing. I don’t always try to get a seat, and I will get off the subway one stop earlier, weather and exhaustion permitting, to walk. 

    Best of luck at Stanford, I enjoy Fooducate a great deal. All the best, Heather Johnston (www.sogood.tv)

  • Powellshrink

    DH and I tried the Clean detox diet last spring, for a lark, really. We were shocked to see that neither of us needed our usual spring allergy meds (which for him included steroids). We did some more reading and decided to return to our regular generally healthy omnivore diet, but to substitute almond milk for cow’s milk permanently. In the fall we eliminated all dairy for about six weeks…None of our typical fall allergies appeared. DD continued her dairy consumption and guess what? She had the same allergy symptoms as always, with weeks of coughing, nasty mucus, and all the rest.

    I am now completing my third consecutive allergy season without a single problem, for the first time in over 20 years. I find it easier to eliminate dairy for a few weeks than to deal with the symptoms and medication side effects (and cost). I always lose a pound or two as well, which is not a bad thing.

  • Islandrain80

    What specific practical actions have you taken in the last few years
    to improve your health? Trying to eat vegetables. I can go days without eating any and didn’t think about it.

    Were you able to maintain these actions over
    more than one year? Yes, though not everyday. I am more aware of when I eat them.

    Is there a specific food / beverage you took out of your diet? I didn’t remove anything completely, just cut back a lot on sugar. I get sugar free expressos, if I drink soda it’s maybe a glass a week (which is a huge cut)

    Was it abrupt or over time? Cutting back sugar was over time, had to adjust my taste buds. Now when I order a regular expresso, WOW it’s sweet.

    Are there specific foods / beverages you have slowly incorporated into your diet? More salads. Toss more greens into slow cooker dinners.

    Are there food swaps you have made in order to lower sodium/sugar/fat ? I buy a lot of salt free, low sodium stuff. Try to find products low in sugar or sugar free.

    Are you using technology to help you (health websites, calorie counters, mobile apps, etc…)  No mobile apps. Most want serving sizes, calories etc…I’m horrible at figure that stuff out. It just makes it more work and stress, then I don’t want to do it. I’ve looked at various sites for healthy recipes and tried them.

    Have you learned to cook? Cook new foods? I’ve learned to cook more variety from various websites.

    What other small steps have you taken to be healthier? Going to the gym and walk more on my days off.

  • Juli Dempewolf

    For the past 4+ years, I’ve been reading labels and eating real food.  Simple as that.  No HFCS, No crazy additives.  If an ingredient isn’t something I’d find in my cupboard, I don’t buy it.  I OCCASIONALLY will eat some junk food, but it’s rare and my system is just no longer used to it, and it always results in a stomach ache.  I definitely eat sweets too, but only the ones I make from scratch.  Overall it has made a huge difference in my health.  I lose weight easily and generally just feel great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=624258943 Antoinette Reyes Terrel

    What specific practical actions have you
    taken in the last few years to improve your health?

    n  My son
    really ‘forced’ me to make changes because he was sick all the time.  He caught pneumonia at 3months old, and was
    sick all the time.  After learning he had
    food allergies, we started reading labels, learning about nutrition and organic
    whole foods.

    Were you able to maintain these actions
    over more than one year?

    n  Yes.  I started our health improvement journey in
    2010 and made the necessary improvements!

    Is there a specific food / beverage you
    took out of your diet? Was it abrupt or over time?

    n  I’ve eliminated
    sodas, carbonated, sugary drinks, including cow’s milk and most dairy
    products. 

    n  We’ve
    eliminated gluten/wheat.     

    Are there specific foods / beverages you
    have slowly incorporated into your diet?

    n  I eat
    a ton of fruits and vegetables, and I juice often.  We eat and drink about 90% organic, farm
    raised, cage free, antibiotic free produce and products. 

    Are there food swaps you have made in order to lower
    sodium/sugar/fat?

    n  Without
    even trying, we’ve incorporated gluten free foods, including Tamari sauce.  I cook with herbs and use coconut oil, which
    adds a new flavor. 

    Are you using technology to help you (health websites, calorie
    counters, mobile apps, etc…).

    n  I was
    real happy about Fooducate so thank you. 
    But I do have a support group and network with people who are into
    sustainable farming, growing their own fruits and vegetables, and believe in
    natural whole foods.

    Have you learned to cook? Cook new foods?

    n  I LOVE
    LOVE LOVE to cook.  If I find something
    online that sounds appealing, I’ll cook it using healthier alternatives to make
    it my own. 

    What other small steps have you taken to be healthier?

    n  Because
    we are bombarded with toxic chemicals – in the air, water, food, and personal
    care products, we safely detox with a natural mineral daily.  Natural supplements, vitamins, and minerals.  For 40+ years I used to get sick all the time
    and was on meds.  Today, it has been a
    year and a half, and I haven’t taken any OTC/Rx medications with no major
    illness/sickness to date!  Best small
    steps I’ve ever made for my family.  

  • Simba

    Specific food I took out? Processed pork, and non-offal red meats. They’re not cut out entirely, but I don’t cook them for myself.
    Slowly incorporated into the diet? Fish. I used to dislike anything but fish fingers and breaded fish. I started eating loads of those, and gradually moved on to ordinary white fish, and even some mackarel. It’s slow going to change mytastes, but it is happening.

    Food waps? No. Water for milk to drink, maybe.

    No technology.

    Like I said, learning to cook fish. I’m also learning to make simple breads.

    Apart from that it’s just walking, for about an hour to two hours every day.

  • Fivesisters

    Eliminated alcohol which lead to less healthy choices. I used the Women for Sobriety program & their online forum for support (womenforsobrietyonline.com).

    I use Facebook to follow several nutrition writers & family eating bloggers to daily remind myself of healthy choices & learn new information.

    I eliminated wheat after reading Wheat Belly which explained how wheat has changed in the past 200 years and is consequently processed differently in the body. I hope to reduce my chance of diabetes & belly fat.

    I cook full dinners from scratch each night. My family did this when I grew up & I do it for my own family of 6. Using fresh ingredients & low fat, lw ugar ingredients I can provide nourishing meals.

  • Nick

    I have heath needs, diabetes, that Fooducate makes easier to manage. Small changes make a big difference & Fooducate makes it easier to find alternatives to what I once mistakenly thought were wise choices. For people like me this is lifesaving.
    I’ll write more later this weekend but I did want to stop by and say thank you for helping me to get Fooducated…    

  • laura

    In 2005, I lost 60 pounds and have kept the weight off ever since (7 years!!).  I’m very proud of my accomplishment, and despite what everyone says against the method, for me it was a case of “eat less, move more.”  On the eating less front, I switched my daily cup of hot chocolate to plain tea. I also gradually stopped buying food that came in boxes and started to gradually cook more meals by myself.  Within 6 months, I was cooking 7 dinners a week and making leftovers for work lunches at least 3-4 days a week so that I only would have one “treat” lunch where I’d go out with coworkers.  I also eliminated most “quick” meal solutions from my diet – things like ground beef, bacon, lunch meats, and other highly processed and fatty meat products.  I also started moving more – walking everywhere (starting with a gradual increase in the amount of walking), taking up hiking, buying nicer walking shoes to keep the momentum going, and so on.  7 years in, I’m 60 pounds lighter, have lots more lean muscle, eat well, sleep well and enjoy life more than I thought possible before.

  • carolee1945

    Joining a CSA, having all those fruits and vegetables around, well, you end up eating them!  I lost five pounds this way!!!

  • Jpersons

    Hello,
    First of all –good luck!! Sounds like a really neat conference to be a part of!
     
    I personally, have had major success from weight watchers, 28 lbs lost in 10 months! It is NOT a diet, it is exactly that, baby steps to a better healthy lifestyle. It taught me the right foods to choose and #1 I have learned is food portions! We as Americans, consume FAR more in a “portion” than we are suppose to!! IE- we are suppose to eat ¾ cup of cereal at a time, and ¼ cup of trail mix at a time, etc, etc. Also if you are going to consume a soda pop or a sweet tea/Snapple, 8oz is an appropriate portion at one time, not the whole bottle/can (12-16oz). Also to be eating every 2.5-3 hours, and eating filling, wholesome foods.
     
    This program has opened my eyes to soooooo much knowledge about consumption and why we are all generally over weight, sick and un happy.
    It’s all about the food in my opinion, what you are eating/drinking and how much.
     
    I hope my personal experience and opinions helps you in some way this week, thanks for asking! Good luck!!

  • Adelyneowens

    Loved dr. Pepper- slowly started ordering tea instead. Cut down ALOT
    Eat out alot for work- started eating smaller portions and ordering lean protein and more veggies and salads as sides.
    Try to have more fruits cut up and ready for the kids to snack on instead quick processed snacks. The junk never fulfilled their cravings when hungry anyway!I Only buy “junk cereal” once a month now and keep very healthy cereal the rest of the time. My fitness pal ap only lasted a week. It was too time consuming. With these small changes- very small- I’ve lost 18 lbs

  • http://www.tiffanylanehandmade.wordpress.com/ Tiffany

    I definitely took baby steps to better health!  Mid way through high school, I decided to omit soda and most sugary drinks from my diet.  Soon enough, I started to develop a distaste for those types of drinks.  Next, I got rid of all drinks but tea, water (and 100% all natural juice on occasion) and now I just drink mostly water.  In college, I really took hold of my eating habits and began learning more and more about nutrition and healthy eating.  Now, out of college and married, I have adopted a more holistic view of eating and health.  I strategically investigate food labels and try to make homemade snacks when I occasionally eat them.  I’ve learned a lot via Michael Pollan.  I know that if I had gone cold turkey, I wouldn’t be eating like I do now.  Baby steps are the way to go.  You slowly (re)train your body to love and crave all things healthy. 

  • alacrity

    The easy answer: I drink more water….My body feels more hydrated, workouts are much better, I eat less, and I seriously believe i sleep better and I  know I am more focused. I shoot for three nalgenes a day (plus my daily tea drinking). I’ve stuck to that goal for about 3 years and it’s not that hard…hate water? cute some leomn/orange slices for a hint of real fruit taste :)

  • Shelley

    I’ve lost 136 pounds since March/April 2011.  The changes I made include the following: 
    -drinking more and mostly water (was a sweet tea addict). I try to drink a gallon a day now.
    -exercise 5 times a week (lost most of my weight using Jillian Michael and Biggest Loser DVD’s but to switch things up a bit, I walk/jog around the neighborhood 3 to 5 miles for 4 or 5 days a week)
    -counting calories (I use online calculators to figure out how many calories I am supposed to consume at the weight I am at to lose weight and I try to stay close to that)
    -portion control and label reading (when I first started this journey, I was shocked at how many calories certain foods had.  I had always told myself I didn’t eat tons of food, and in a way I did not, but the calories and nutrition were issues.)
    -try to cook and eat better (while we still eat processed and some just plain not good for you food, I have tried to use healthier cooking methods and include more veggies and fruits in our diet)
    -not eating out as much (we would get sometimes up to 7 meals out a week…breakfast on weekends, lunch on weekends, and dinner.  Now we eat out once or maybe twice a week usually on Saturday, my “cheat” day).

    I still have around 60 pounds to go and I have been having trouble the past 2 to 3 months (diet fatigue maybe) but I know how my body works now and I don’t freak out if I gain five pounds over the weekend after being “bad.” 

  • Gwa1225

    A friend put me on to LoseIt.com, especially the iPad/iPhone app, which is elegant and easy to use.  I’m a nutritionally-aware-but-not-fanatical 65-year old who’d drifted from 155 to 169lbs. I’ve dropped about 20lbs since early November thanks to this app (and the friend who put me onto it). If you don’t mind daily data-entry, this thing is Da Bomb.

  • carolee1945

    Sparkpeople.com really works too.

  • LiisaW

    What specific practical actions have you taken in the last few years
    to improve your health? Were you able to maintain these actions over
    more than one year?

    I was diagnosed with a few health problems – asthma, depression, congenital something in my knee that causes problems – and I’m getting adequate treatment for these. Which is not exactly improving my health, just maintaining a baseline, I guess.
    I’m struggling with anorexia combined with bouts of binging – at a certain point, I learned not to control my food intake and then it tilted to the other extreme. 

    Well… due to achy knee, binging, being an office paper shuffler who spends nine hours a day glued to the computer I had gained quite some weight. I always did a lot of hiking and some gardening so I’m not just a coach potato but I started to feel bad about my beer gut and stuff, and those extra 30 kilos indeed are a huge backpack to be carried around at all times. My knee is not happy either. Due to the eating disorders history (and present, to be exact) I find it rather complicated to find a balance between food intake, both quality and quantity, control. I have hard time to keep my food intake within a normal range – the borders are very blurry depending on anything but my feeling of hunger. I’m trying hard and I guess I’m slowly improving. I got a bike and if weather permits, I go for a ride almost every day. I got a garden and turning the soil and weeding feels good on many levels as well – physical activity, feeling of achievement, my own food (well, in future).

    Is there a specific food / beverage you took out of your diet? Was it abrupt or over time?
    I discovered that I have some sort of gluten intolerance (not coeliac). I had noticed that bread or pasta make me feel unwell so I had not eaten that much of it anyway. I cut on it even more although a lovely artisanal bakery opened down the street and their unsalted rye bread is worth of two days with diarrhoea.

    Are there specific foods / beverages you have slowly incorporated into your diet?
    I started to cook gluten-free. I’m not a big friend of adapting the traditional recipes, sometimes it works but often not so well. I discovered how many sorts of rice are there and I started eating much more of it. The local eco-bio-vegan-treehugger store has all sorts of unusual ingredients. By trying those that seemed promising (not the tofu bacon, or vegan liver pate) I found out that my life without miso had been pretty bland, that amaranth flour makes excellent cookies or flatbreads…

    Are there food swaps you have made in order to lower sodium/sugar/fat ?
    I’m considered an unsalted freak in the wide family and social circles. I yet have to do some considerable work on my consumption of chocolate and dry fruits. As for fats, well, you’ll need to pry my butter, lard and oil from my dead cold hands. And by oil, I mean good olive, seed or nut oil, I wouldn’t touch anything else. By the way, lard is excellent for frying as it is stable in high temperatures.
    However, when cooking, I don’t use much fat in general. Often it’s possible to use less than the recipe calls for. Same about sugar.

    Are you using technology to help you (health websites, calorie counters, mobile apps, etc…)
    I found a website which tracks the food intake in a way that’s easy to deal with – I can customize it and add my own recipes or other stuff. They have a huge database of easily obtainable data – brand name snacks and such – which sucks when one eats homemade stuff. Now I’m building my own subdatabase of stuff I cook or which I get in the Italian deli and it makes the whole process less time-consuming and annoying.

    It
    does help me. I’m sort of working on eating more
    vegetables – only sort of, this is a bad season for fresh produce
    and I refuse to buy tasteless tomatoes brought from Spain or grapes
    from South Africa for obvious reasons and the frozen stuff has its
    logistic drawbacks. Importantly, I found out that I’m not eating
    enough. I yet have to see how it works on the long run but I feel
    good about it so far.

    Have you learned to cook? Cook new foods?
    I had always cooked but lately I cook more and try new things.

    What other small steps have you taken to be healthier?
    I got a garden and apart from killing back while turning the soil and weeding, I’m growing my own food.
    It may seem very very tangential to health but I started building my herbary seriously. At least once in a week I make a trip to some interesting spot.

    I
    cycle if it is within reasonable reach and on flatland (as per my
    orthopedist’s order, I’m to do lots of cycling but no hills until the
    knee improves a bit) or I take a train or bus and walk. Apart from
    learning a lot about ecosystems and plants and stuff, I get out
    often, I get to move… and I’m actually very surprised how many nice
    places there are, very close to the city, for that matter.