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How to Create Lasting Change

Have you recently put an emphasis on health? Don't let your admirable efforts give way to the pressures of daily life. David Katz, M.D., director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, says it's all about anticipation: There will always be obstacles -- a busy schedule, family obligations, holidays -- but we can plan accordingly. The goal is to strike a balance between the pursuit of wellness and the pursuit of pleasure so that each helps you find the other.

Make it Family-Based
As adults, we may be focused on nutritious food choices, but America is turning out a record number of obese children. To keep your healthy lifestyle going -- and pass it on to your children -- make it family-based. Involve your spouse and kids in daily diet decisions, and teach children how to read food labels at a young age with educational programs such as Katz's "Nutrition Detectives," a DVD offering a step-by-step kid-friendly guide to detecting marketing deceptions and identifying wholesome foods.

Say Hello to H2O
When it comes to drinking water, we can forget about "eight glasses a day"; this popular misconception is just urban legend. The best indicator that you are getting enough water is your kidneys: If your urine is the color of light straw, and you need to pee about every three hours, you are well hydrated. And when it comes to food, remember that it's the fuel for the human body, and a well-fueled body runs well: If you have good and consistent energy and stable and comfortable moods, you are eating the proper amount.

Boost Your Nutrition
Try adding walnuts, almonds, nut butters, fresh berries, avocado, and wholesome grains such as quinoa to your diet for a boost of nutrition. Lentils are a formidable alternative to meat; fish such as grilled salmon or baked halibut will help to give us nutrients we need and often do not get enough of, such as omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

Choose Natural Foods
Remember, taste buds are malleable. You can, and should, retrain your taste buds to prefer healthier food choices that are close to nature. Start by incrementally making over familiar recipes -- breading a chicken cutlet in ground whole-grain crackers instead of white bread crumbs, or substituting a ground turkey and lentil combination for your next hamburger. Even indulgences can be prudent: next time you're looking for a special dessert, try strawberries or almonds dipped in dark chocolate. Your sweet tooth and your diet will be equally satisfied.

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