We all know that we're supposed to eat right, exercise, and be healthy, but it's usually easier said than done. Sometimes, we think we're doing the right things, but inaccurate info leads us astray. (Did you know, for example, that your salad dressing could have as much saturated fat as a serving of bacon?!) A lot of us just don't know how to be healthy – what check-ups to get, and when; how to manage chronic diseases; how much exercise to get; and which foods are healthiest.
You might be wondering – what does this have to do with health insurance? Well, a lot! Being healthy could mean less visits to the doctor, fewer medicines, and fewer symptoms of chronic diseases. So in addition to feeling better, you could save big bucks!
Diet recommendations will always vary from person to person, but here are some general guidelines that likely benefit most people. Check with your doctor first about your needs.
- Control portion sizes. Read nutrition labels to understand what an actual serving size is. Eat until you're satisfied, not full. Eat smaller meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism fueled. Don't snack mindlessly; pay attention to what – and how much – you're eating.
- Eat whole grains. Grains like whole wheat, oats/oatmeal, and brown or wild rice are a healthier choice than refined grains (like products made with white flour).
- Eat at least five servings of fruit and veggies each day. Eat a wide variety for the most health benefits, and be sure that at least one of those servings is leafy greens, like spinach or kale. Learn more at Fruits & Veggies – More Matters.
- Eat lean meats and low-fat dairy. Chicken and fish are usually healthy options – skip the skin and choose white meat if you can. Opt for low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt to limit your fat intake.
- Eat unsaturated fat in moderation. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, like that found in olive oil, nuts, and salmon, has some heart benefits when eaten in small amounts. Avoid saturated and trans fats found in foods like shortening, pork fat, and many processed foods (like candy, cookies, chips, and fried foods).
There's no right or wrong way to get fit. The key is picking something that you enjoy and get moving! Exercise with friends or schedule workouts on your calendar so you're less likely to back out. Switch up your routine every now and then so you don't get bored. And if you have only 10 minutes, then exercise for 10 minutes. Hey – it's better than nothing!
Exercise is a great way to lose or maintain your weight, ease chronic disease symptoms, relieve stress, and get energized. Feeling good in your skinny jeans is an added bonus.
Here are some guidelines to help you get started. Of course, talk to your doctor before starting a regular exercise routine.
Avoid Risky Behaviors
We hate to nag, but while you're here, may we take this moment to remind you about the dangers of smoking and tobacco, drugs, excessive drinking, and stress? They can lead to a lot of health problems, ranging from acne to death.
If you need help in any of these areas, check with your health insurer. They probably have programs to help you.
Here are some other resources:
- Smoking help: Smokefree.gov and REAL
- Substance abuse: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Mental health/stress: Mental Health America