Expert Guidance

5 Healthy Eating Habits for Busy People

Designer Creative - Sunday, June 25, 2017

If only eating healthy according to your healthcare provider’s standards was as easy as she made it sound. Unfortunately, many will say there is just not enough time in the day to eat well. Fast food tastes great, can be addictive and is easy when other priorities keep us from making time for better meals.


Sundays make great days for meal prepping. For example, you could make 14 breakfast burritos all at once and freeze them. One person could have a filling and quick breakfast out of the microwave for two weeks, or a couple could have a quick breakfast every day for a week.


However, many spend weekends away from home, attending events or relaxing and dread the idea of spending hours in the kitchen with a hot oven, cooking the same meal over and over. While it makes the following far more convenient, there’s no arguing the process is time consuming and can quickly get overwhelming without help.


We strongly urge you to give meal prepping ahead of the week a try, but if you’re not ready to take the dive just yet, that’s OK. We have some great tips to help you tackle every meal in the meantime.


1. Choose natural foods.

“Natural” has become a bit of an ambiguous term, but when we say natural, we mean as it appears in nature. For example, go for an apple over applesauce, grilled chicken breast over chicken nuggets or a baked potato with skin instead of French fries.


2. Eat regularly.

Our bodies like routines, and through repetition, healthy habits can be easy to develop and sustain. Starting healthy habits and following through is the hard part. They say it takes 21 days for a healthy habit to stick, so if you’re someone who tends to put eating on the back burner in favor of work or other activities, consider setting a schedule and planning healthy food and snacks around that schedule. If you know you’ll be on the road when you’ll be hungry, pack a quick snack like an apple, or eat something with a lot of fiber or protein before you head out. This will help satisfy your appetite and keep you from feeling the need to stop by the drive-thru.


3. Chew gum.

Research shows chewing gum can reduce your desire for food. Often, when we’re bored, food becomes an easy way to activate endorphins and accumulate pleasure. Chewing gum can help activate the same sensations without adding calories.


4. Drink more water.

Are you hydrating yourself? Many Southeast Missourians struggle to make sure they’re drinking. Any nonalcoholic liquid will do, but you’ll find your body and skin are much more satisfied with regular water. There are zero calories, and you can usually find an affordable source. Aim to drink a full glass every couple hours. Sometimes when we believe we’re hungry, our bodies are severely thirsty instead. If you’re still hungry fifteen minutes after drinking a full glass, feel free to eat your meal.


5. Go small and eat slowly.

With so much going on, it’s tempting to rush through food and get back to our regularly scheduled events. However, eating quickly can lead to overindulging and stomach pain. Instead of packing your plate full, keep it small. Space bites out with plenty of drinks. Wait fifteen minutes after eating your small plate before going back for more



If you’d like more in-depth education on satisfying your hunger, check out this interactive guide from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The Number One Trick for Losing Weight and Keeping it Off

Designer Creative - Saturday, April 22, 2017

You have probably heard the adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This saying can be applied to almost every weight-loss trick floating around on the internet and on the front covers of popular magazines. These diet plans are often unhealthy, impractical and profoundly difficult to stick with. Those who participate may lose weight, but they will also experience headaches, hair loss and extreme discomfort. Not to mention any weight loss on these diet plans usually comes crawling back.


The hard truth first: Depending on your starting weight, safe weight loss starts around one-half to two pounds a week. Anything promising you will drop 10 pounds in 10 days could set you up for failure. In fact, you may lose 10 pounds, but because you did not develop healthy eating habits in those 10 days, you will most likely gain all the weight back.


Weight-loss facts:
  •      - Whole grain products are fine to eat in moderation.
  •      - You must burn more calories than you consume.
  •      - Low-fat and fat-free foods are not guilt free. They often contain added flour, sugar and salt – packing on extra calories.
  •      - Skipping meals can make you feel hungrier and lead to binge eating.
  •      - Frozen vegetables are usually more affordable than fresh and contain the same vitamins and nutrients.
  •      - Healthy weight loss takes time, but the results will last if you stick with healthy habits.



Losing weight starts with changing your diet. Did you know that on average, you must walk the length of a football field to burn off one M&M? This goes to show just how much diet comes before exercise. By decreasing your total calorie intake, you should see a decrease in the number on your scale over the course of a few weeks.


You do not have to go on a crazy diet to reach a healthy weight.


For results that will not vanish, follow these weight-loss guidelines:

1. Track all the food you eat in a notebook or in an app on your smartphone.

2. Use a food scale or measuring device instead of estimating your serving sizes.

3. Plan your meals out a few days ahead of time.

4. Use smaller plates and make half your plate fruits and vegetables for every meal.

5. Focus on finding exercises you enjoy instead of working out to lose weight.


There are a lot of myths and diet plans out there claiming to help individuals get results. Unfortunately, there are no magical products or supplements that will help you attain long-term results.

Try This Easy Diet Hack for Healthy Results

Designer Creative - Thursday, February 09, 2017

Figuring out the right portions for meals is never an easy task. Unfortunately, if you do not have a food scale, any estimations you make regarding calories and nutrients are probably way off.



Introducing the Plate Method

While still not as accurate as weighing meats and measuring your portions according to the recommendations of food manufacturers, the Plate Method is perfect for developing meals when you’re short on time, out of ideas or missing the proper measuring tools. The Plate Method does not require any math either.


Using a plate that is nine inches across (or six inches if you’re trying to lose weight), you can craft many meals to fit your tastes and dietary requirements, whether you are diabetic, have high blood pressure or cholesterol or are just looking to adjust your eating habits.


Once you have a properly sized plate, imagine a line dividing it down the middle. You will use half for non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli. On the other side of the plate, you will split it in half again, making it into fourths. In one of these quarters you will have your lean protein, like chicken, and in the other fourth, you will have whole grain foods or starchy vegetables.


Non-starchy vegetable examples for half of your plate:

● Green beans

● Spinach

● Carrots

● Lettuce

● Asparagus

● Cauliflower

● Cucumber

● Mushrooms

● Peppers

● Tomatoes


Have a fourth of your plate dedicated to these vegetables and whole grains:

● Corn

● Peas

● Potatoes

● Pumpkin

● Zucchini

● Brown rice

● Whole grain or whole wheat pasta

● Whole grain or whole wheat tortillas

● Whole grain or whole wheat bread


Tip: Just because the packaging says “multigrain” or “five grain” does not mean the product you’re looking at fit your diet. Stick with products that use the word “whole” to describe grains.


Lean proteins:

● Skinless turkey

● Skinless chicken

● Baked or grilled fish (not fried)

● Eggs

● Low-fat cheeses

● Most soy or tofu meat alternatives


After you have filled your plate, you can have a small cup on the side with fruits, low-fat dairy, healthy fats like avocado or low-fat condiments like dressing for dipping and spreading.


The Plate Method does require that you be mindful of food preparation and seasoning. Opt to bake, grill or steam food over frying, and use calorie-free seasonings over breading or excess salt.


Do you need extra help creating your diet? Check with your local health department to find out if you have access to free dietitian services. Did you know you can prevent type 2 diabetes with a diet designed around this method? Learn if you are at risk here.


You can learn more techniques like the Plate Method in a Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshop. Find the next enrollment period for your area here.


5 Behaviors That Will Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Designer Creative - Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Falling into bad habits is easy, but learning how to change those habits takes dedication, patience and a little elbow grease. If you want to lower your risk for heart disease, start small. Instead of diving in all at once, use small goals to work up to an ultimate habit makeover. Over time, you can implement healthy behaviors like those below and start feeling like a better you.


Adjust your diet

Substitute calorie-free herbs and spices in place of salt. Use the Plate Method for measuring portions, and serve meat paired whole grains like brown rice and green vegetables. Fruits come in a variety of flavors and pair well with peanut butter, honey and nuts for a dessert alternative.


When grocery shopping, do your best to avoid inner food aisles. Replace morning granola bars with scrambled eggs. Start food in the slow cooker in the morning so you have a healthy meal waiting for you when you get home from work. Drinking more water in place of caffeine can also help improve overall health and lower blood pressure.


Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke

Just being around cigarette smoke can increase a nonsmoker’s risk for developing heart disease by about 30 percent. Because smoking damages the lining of your arteries, fatty material will build up. Once arteries become narrow from the fatty material, the risk of a heart attack or stroke increases exponentially. Find a free program to help you quit smoking here.

Cut down on drinking alcohol

Alcohol both raises blood pressure and works negatively with many medications. Reducing the amount you drink can also help lower your daily caloric intake and aid in weight loss efforts.


Walk 30 Minutes at least five days a week

Keep your arteries flexible by keeping your body mobile. The American Heart Association recommends frequent exercise to improve heart health, but exercise doesn’t have to be hard. Low-impact sports or walking are beneficial for anyone living a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.


Enroll in M Power self-management programs.

M Power is a collaboration of health departments across Southeast Missouri offering free workshops to individuals currently diagnosed with chronic disease, individuals at risk for developing chronic disease and those who care for others at risk for or currently living with a chronic disease. Research shows these supportive programs help individuals develop skills they need for tackling difficult habits and improving overall well-being.


Did you know that most Americans do not know they have heart disease until they have a heart attack or other chest pains? Find out if you’re at risk for diabetes, obesity complications or heart disease so you can make changes for the better today.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,754,999 with 0 percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

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