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Making Healthy Changes Starts One Step at a Time

Did you make a promise to yourself this year to start eating healthier? Are you feeling pressured by the nonstop advertisements for weight-loss solutions? Is your family history for diabetes or heart disease keeping you up at night? There are many reasons we all should be motivated to eat better for optimal health. But the pressure to do it all and do it now — well, that can feel really overwhelming. 

There is reason for concern. A staggering 96 million adult Americans — more than one in three — are living with prediabetes, a condition where blood-glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. 

But the reality is, we can all make small changes that can lead to big results. Sometimes just the idea of change stops us in our tracks, but if we break things down into small bites (no pun intended!), it may be easier to get started. March is National Nutrition Month and a great time to consider trying these small steps to make big gains in your health and well-being.  

  • Increase physical activity. Starting a fitness regimen can seem daunting. But even walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can result in improved health. 
  • Create a meal plan, not a “diet.” This is a lifelong commitment to better health. Food is the fuel we need to be at our very best. Rather than thinking in terms of what you can’t eat, maintain a meal plan that allows you choices and variety. 
  • Get five servings of fruits and vegetables each day — and eat the rainbow! Allowing ourselves the opportunity to try new fruits and veggies, including fresh, frozen, and canned varieties, opens our palate to new tastes that prevent boredom and make mealtime more enjoyable. 
  • Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Think about that. It still leaves room for your protein and starch, and it’s an easy visual for enjoying a healthier and more portion-controlled meal. 
  • Understand food labels and what you are eating. Understanding what is in your food can help you make the right choices for your dietary needs. Look for food with little to no added sugars and saturated fats, as well as food that is high in fiber and made from whole grains. 
  • Eat more fish. Try eating seafood — fish and shellfish — twice a week. Seafood contains a variety of healthy nutrients and healthy omega-3 fats. 
  • Experiment with plant-based meals. Swapping meat for a plant-based meal is easy and budget friendly! Many recipes that call for red meat or poultry can easily be made with vegetables, beans, and lentils. Give it a go once a week to start. 
  • Eat calcium-rich foods. But try low-fat and fat-free options instead, like low-fat milk, low-fat cottage cheese, and fat-free yogurt. 
  • Try healthy snacks. We all love our comfort foods. But enjoy them in moderation. Healthy snacking can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when you combine different foods. For example, have a banana or an apple with a tablespoon of nut or seed butter, or dip some veggies in low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt. 
  • Get out of your rut! Are you brown-bagging the same lunch every day? Making the same meals for dinner? Explore the grocery store and buy one new fruit, vegetable, and whole grain for you and your family to try! 

If food insecurity is an issue, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services can help. We’ll help you find community resources like SNAP, WIC, and local food banks that can ensure you receive the healthy meals you and your family need. The right food choices can make a big difference in your health. Find out more ways you can make positive changes for yourself and your family at