6 Ways to Build Lasting Healthy Habits
(Family Features) Starting on a path toward healthy habits is often easier than maintaining them long term. This year, you can avoid a major pitfall of healthy resolutions and build healthy habits that stick by working small, positive steps into your daily life.
In fact, healthy habits are the first suggested treatment strategy for people whose blood pressure and cholesterol levels are creeping higher than normal, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement.
“The current guidelines for managing high blood pressure and cholesterol recognize that otherwise healthy individuals with mildly or moderately elevated levels of these cardiovascular risk factors should actively attempt to reduce these risks, and increasing physical activity is a great place to start,” said Bethany Barone Gibbs, Ph.D., chair of the statement writing group and chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at West Virginia University School of Public Health.
These six ideas from the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good Habit Coach can help.
Bust Common Habit-Building Myths
You may be surprised to learn the truth about creating and sticking to healthy habits. One myth is getting healthy means doing things you don’t like. Research shows positive emotions make habits stick, so set your intentions on something you enjoy. Another misconception is big results require big changes, which may lead to overly ambitious habits. However, the simpler the routine is, the more likely it is to become habit.
Work with Your “Brain Loops”
Your brain creates “loops” for habits made up of three things: a cue, a routine and a reward. Each time the loop is repeated, it becomes more routine and may become automatic. Knowing this, you can design cues for developing new, healthy habits, such as setting walking shoes by the bed to start a walking habit. The routine is putting on the shoes and walking around the block, and the reward is the pleasant sensations and brighter mood from a morning stroll.
Create Cues That Work for You
Most successful health habits begin with a cue. The cue can be external in your environment or internal in terms of your mindset. The more consistent the cue, the more likely it is to trigger the habit. Hacking your brain’s reminder system can help you remember your cue. Some examples of visual cues are placing a sticky note where you’ll see it often, keeping a water bottle on your desk or refrigerating fresh veggies at eye level.
Build a Routine That Supports Your Goals
Positive and consistent habits are important to achieve your personal goals. Small habits done consistently can add up to big results. To create a new healthy habit, think through the steps that could lead to your desired outcome. Ask yourself whether you want to do it, if it’s easy and if it’s high impact. It’s important to choose habits that make a difference and move you closer to your goals.
For example, if one of your goals is improving your heart health, a meaningful habit might be to move more. Increasing physical activity can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol along with many other health benefits, Gibbs said.
“Every little bit of activity is better than none,” she said. “Even small initial increases of 5-10 minutes a day can yield health benefits.”
Use Rewards to Make Habits Stick
Start by choosing a habit you enjoy that’s rewarding by itself. If you’re more of a dancer than runner, increase your physical activity with an upbeat dance class. You might also look for a more enjoyable version of a new habit, such as getting more fruits and veggies by sipping on a delicious smoothie.
Understand Resets are Part of the Process
New habits are experiments. If they don’t stick, you haven’t failed. Instead, you’ve learned what doesn’t work, which is useful. Get curious and ask yourself which part of the habit didn’t work for you. Maybe the cue was ineffective. Maybe the steps of the routine were too ambitious and you need to split them into smaller, easier steps. If you realize you don’t enjoy the habit, stop doing it and try something else.
Find more inspiration and ideas to jumpstart healthy habits this year at heart.org/habits.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Heart Association
Make the Most of Snacking for Healthy Kids
(Family Features) Kids, no matter their age, love snacks, and often come home from school hungry and looking for something to eat. However, it can be a struggle to find snacks that kids enjoy and parents approve.
The snack experts at Kemps along with registered dietitian and nutrition expert Frances Largeman-Roth know the importance of finding fun and tasty ways to give hungry, growing kids the nutrient-rich foods they need. These tips can help you make the most of snack time (or any time) to keep kids healthy.
Look for Real Fruit Ingredients
While quick and easy, many packaged snacks use sugar instead of real fruit. Make sure to read labels carefully to understand what is in kids’ snacks. Look for real fruit, not just fruit juice, and key vitamins and nutrients like calcium while skipping out on artificial flavors, preservatives, colors and high-fructose corn syrup.
Stock Up on Kid-Friendly Options
One way to help make the most of snack time is choosing an option like Kemps Smooth Cottage Cheese. This first-of-its-kind whole milk cottage cheese is blended with real fruit to create a creamy taste and texture without curds that kids are sure to love. A quick and easy solution, it also allows kids to be independent with what they eat to make snack time more rewarding – just grab a spoon with no unnecessary cutting or preparation needed.
Start the Day Off Right
It’s not always easy to squeeze a nutritious breakfast into busy mornings, but it’s an important way to start each day. Multiple studies show kids who eat a nutritious breakfast perform better academically and focus better throughout the day. Plus, starting the day off right helps kick unhealthy cravings while keeping kids full and energized. Once snack time rolls around, they’ll be ready for something healthy and delicious instead of reaching for something sugary.
Pack In the Protein
To make sure your kids are staying full between meals and getting the nutrients they need, stock up on snacks that are high in protein. According to Largeman-Roth, dairy is a great way to accomplish this while also giving kids a tasty snack. Snacks like Kemps Smooth Cottage Cheese pack a protein punch with almost twice as much protein per ounce as most yogurts made for kids, plus it contains probiotics, another key ingredient to support gut health.
Model Healthy Habits
Kids learn by example in countless ways, and the way you take care of your own health and well-being is no exception. When kids see grownups they admire making smart choices about nutrition, they’re more likely to adopt those behaviors themselves. Join in the fun at snack time and create meaningful family moments by preparing or enjoying a nutritious snack together.
Make Snack Time Fun
There’s few things kids love more than fun flavors or seeing characters they cherish on their favorite foods. To make snack time extra exciting, get snacks featuring characters they love or with favorite flavors, like strawberry or mixed berry, which are popular among kids.
To learn more and find fun recipes, visit kemps.com.
Show Your Love with a Naturally Sweet, Delicious Gift
(Family Features) Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, saying “I love you” to a faraway relative or offering a kind gesture to a friend or neighbor, sending a gift is a thoughtful way to share your appreciation. A handwritten note goes a long way, and you can take that token of gratitude one step further by pairing it with an authentic fruit basket.
When it’s time to give a gift to a friend or loved one, consider sending fresh Florida Citrus boxes, which contain premium citrus hand-selected at the peak of ripeness. Available in a variety of sizes to fit your budget and filled with your choice of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and unique jams, jellies and candies, the baskets arrive fresh at the door of your recipient.
With naturally sweet taste from the Sunshine State, the unique climate with subtropical temperatures, abundant sunshine, distinctive sandy soil and ample rainfall help grow juicy citrus. Plus, the delicious fruits are equally nutritious as they’re loaded with vitamin C and provide a combination of nutrients to support overall health to help adults and children alike meet intake recommendations for certain key nutrients.
On top of their taste as appetizing snacks, they’re perfect for cooking in recipes like Citrus Marinated Flatiron Steak Salad or Citrus Cherry Cobbler that take advantage of their natural sweetness and allow for mouthwatering meals, sides, desserts and more.To choose a premium, hand-selected basket and send to your friends, neighbors, coworkers and loved ones, visit gifts.floridacitrus.org.
Citrus Marinated Flatiron Steak Salad
Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup Florida Orange Juice
- 1/4 cup Florida Tangerine Juice
- 2 teaspoons Florida Orange zest
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
Flatiron Steak Salad:
- 1 1/2 pounds flatiron steak
- 2 cups Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette, divided
- 1/2 cup Florida Orange segments
- 1/2 cup Florida Grapefruit segments
- 2 quarts baby spinach
- 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup radish, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- To make citrus balsamic vinaigrette: Combine orange juice, tangerine juice, orange zest, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper, to taste. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking vigorously. Set dressing aside.
- To make flatiron steak salad: Place flatiron steak in container and add 1 cup citrus balsamic vinaigrette. Marinate in refrigerator at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat.
- Grill steak to desired doneness. Remove from heat and rest 5 minutes before slicing thinly.
- In large mixing bowl, combine orange segments, grapefruit segments, baby spinach, red onion, cherry tomatoes, radish and cucumber. Add remaining citrus balsamic vinaigrette, as desired, and toss well to combine.
- To serve, divide salad and sliced steak among four plates and top with crumbled goat cheese.
Citrus Cherry Cobbler
- 4 cups cherries, pitted, juice reserved
- 1/2 cup Florida Orange Juice
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups Florida Orange segments, seeded
- 1/2 cup Florida Grapefruit segments, seeded
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons milk
- To make cobbler: In medium saucepan, combine cherries and reserved juice, orange juice, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute and remove from heat. Add butter and stir until melted. Cool and add orange segments and grapefruit segments. Pour filling into baking dish or pie pan.
- To make topping: Heat oven to 350 F.
- In food processor, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Add butter and pulse until butter is cut into small, pea-sized pieces. Remove flour mixture from food processor and place in mixing bowl. Add egg and milk; stir until just combined. Drop topping mixture by tablespoon over filling until almost covered.
- Bake until topping is browned and filling is bubbling and hot. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.
Florida Department of Citrus