Nine Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle  
by: Swati Jobanputra (

If you want to achieve a healthier life style, here are nine suggestions to help you along:

  1. Eat at least 3 servings of whole grain foods every day. Whole grains are good sources of soluble and insoluble fiber, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent certain types of cancer. Ex. Whole grain cereals, breads and foods made with whole grain flour such as chappatis, waffles, etc.

  2. Be "FAT" smart. Switch from high fat to low fat hot dogs, sausage, ham, bacon or bologna. Avoid ground beef, and switch to veggieburgers, chicken or turkey breast.

  3. Milk can be a significant contributor of saturated fat and cholesterol to an average persons diet. However, milk is important source of "calcium". Skim or one-percent milk provides equivalent amount of calcium but each glass you drink helps you save five grams of saturated fat.

  4. Cheese is another potential source of artery clogging saturated fat. Look for "light" or fat-free cheese. Order your sandwich without cheese or pizza with lesser cheese and more veggies. If none of these options appeal to you, limit yourself to no more than two ounces of regular cheese per week.

  5. Eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Stock up on frozen vegetables. Steaming them, or adding them to soups, rice or casseroles, or stuffing them in pita bread or folding them in tortillas or omelets are easy ways to get the recommended servings. Keep some carrots, zucchini, celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli florets around to munch in between meals. Reach for fruits as a snack before you grab that bag of chips.

  6. Cut down on your salt intake. Most of the sodium in our diet comes from processed and restaurant foods. Read labels and buy "healthy" versions of soups, pasta sauces and lunchmeats.

  7. Eat at least four servings of dried beans or lentils each week. They are rich in fiber and phytochemicals. Cooking beans is time consuming so continue with the technique of using cookers and also make extra to freeze them for later use or use them for lunch next day.

  8. Drink water instead of soft drinks or other sugar loaded beverages and, avoid alcoholic drinks.

  9. Get yourself in shape for summer by exercising at least three times a week from today. Walking 2-3 times a week helps too. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Courtesy: Atul S. Sheth, M.D. , Kusum A. Sheth, M.D. , Violeta Fojas-Vitug, M.D. , Swati Jobanputra, M.S., R.D.

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Note: The information provided herein is of general nature, and should not be construed as professional medical advice.