by Robert S. Dinsmoor
Changing your habits and lifestyle isn’t easy, but even small changes can reap big rewards, especially when you add them up over time. To get you started, here are 100 tips for a happier, healthier, wealthier life. Pick and choose those tips that you think will be most helpful for you.
1. Learn to read food labels. That way, you can keep track of what’s in your food, including how many calories and how much fat and saturated fat you consume. Also take note of the “Serving Size.” It may be smaller than you think.
2. Save cooking time by making big batches of your favorite dishes and freezing meal-sized portions. This works especially well for such dishes as lasagna, spaghetti sauce, and chili.
3. To help lose weight, choose low-calorie snacks you can munch on during the day. That way, you won’t be tempted to eat too much during your next meal. Some good snack choices are fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, yogurt, and — in moderation — nuts.
4. Try adding fish to your diet two to three times a week. Fish is a heart-healthy source of protein. Salmon, herring, and tuna are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to lower the risk of heart disease and may decrease inflammation associated with some types of arthritis.
5. Switch from whole milk to skim milk. Even if you drink only a cup a day, you’ll be cutting out 7.73 grams of fat and 63 calories a day, or 2021.45 grams of fat and 22,995 calories a year. If that’s too drastic a change for your taste buds, switch to 2% milk, then to 1% milk, and then to skim.
6. Spice up your life. To cut back on fat and salt, season food with herbs and spices instead of fatty sauces, butter, or margarine.
7. To cut back on fat, try roasting, baking, broiling, or simmering meat, poultry, or fish rather than frying. Use a rack in the oven for meats and poultry so that the fat drains off.
8. Use a nonstick skillet and cooking spray to sauté meat. Depending on which spray you use, this way of cooking can cut up to 40 grams of fat and over 350 calories compared with cooking with 3 tablespoons of oil or margarine.
9. Use fat-free salad dressing. Replacing 2 tablespoons of regular Italian salad dressing with 2 tablespoons of fat-free dressing will cut 80 or more calories and over 8 grams of fat.
10. Skim the fat. For leaner stews, gravies, boiled meats, and similar dishes, cook your food a day ahead of time and refrigerate it. Then skim the congealed fat from the top before reheating the dish.
11. Make lunch the big meal of the day. This can give you more of an opportunity to burn off those calories.
12. Weigh and measure your food on a regular basis. Even people who think they can identify a cup of vegetables or 3 ounces of meat by sight often start to underestimate their portion sizes over time.
13. Be sure to drink six to eight glasses of water each day. Inadequate water intake can lead to constipation, headaches, weakness, and queasiness.
14. To protect against food poisoning, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Keep food refrigerated until it is ready to be cooked. Don’t thaw meat at room temperature — instead let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
15. Make sure your refrigerator is cold enough to prevent bacterial growth and food poisoning. Public health experts recommend keeping the thermostat set at 40°F or lower.
16. Also to prevent food poisoning, buy a meat thermometer. Cook all ground beef to an internal temperature of 160°F and all whole poultry to 180°F. For more information on food safely, go to www.foodsafety.gov.
17. Make a habit of keeping all cooking surfaces clean. It is especially important to prevent cross-contamination, the spreading of bacteria from raw meat to other raw foods that will not be cooked.
18. To get a better night’s sleep, avoid caffeine after 2 PM and limit your alcohol intake at night.
19. Try to rise and shine on schedule, even on weekends. Getting up at the same time every day helps your body maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle and may help alleviate insomnia.
20. If you can’t sleep, don’t try to force yourself to sleep — it will only make matters worse. Try doing something mundane like folding laundry until you start to feel drowsy again.
21. Find a comfortable routine to do right before bedtime to help prepare the body for sleep. For example, take a bath, read, or listen to soft music.
22. How comfortable is your bed? Give it an overhaul. You may find you want a firmer or softer mattress. You may also discover that placing a pillow or towel under a joint can give it proper support.
Last Reviewed on November 10, 2010
Robert S. Dinsmoor is a medical writer and editor based in Massachusetts.
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