Are you trying to maintain a healthy weight for yourself – and your family too?

A few simple changes in your eating, shopping and exercise routines could make a big difference.

Change your eating habits

Start with avoiding on-the-go eating. That typically leads to eating too fast and choosing foods that are high in calories yet lacking in nutrients.

Whenever possible, steer clear of these snacks and fast foods by carving out a little extra time for regular meals. When you sit down, you eat more slowly and pay more attention to what you’re consuming.

As a mother of three children, I know that many of us lead hectic lives. So, set a realistic goal at first. Try, for starters, to commit to having sit-down meals three days a week.

Another easy way to watch weight is to cut out sugary drinks. Sodas, fruit juices, and sweetened teas and coffee drinks are all packed with calories.  That’s a change people can make that doesn’t feel overwhelming.

For anyone thinking of stepping up their weight loss, I’d recommend a diet of between 1,200 to 1,800 calories a day depending on your weight. To avoid feeling hungry or deprived, stick to a diet with adequate protein, healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts and olive oil) and low-carb vegetables.  Aim to lose about a pound or two a week. That way it won’t feel too daunting.

Change your shopping

Changes in shopping habits can make a big difference too. Whenever possible, avoid prepared and processed foods. Sure, they can be inexpensive, have a long shelf life and taste quite good.  But they are packed with empty calories, and when we eat too much of them, we are simply over-nourished. That leads to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

So, stay away from the grocery store middle aisles as much as possible and aim, instead, to pick the wholesome foods found around the perimeter of the supermarket – namely fresh produce, dairy and meats.

Introducing healthy foods to your family can be quite challenging – especially with kids and fussy eaters. But don’t give up.  If you offer a particular food once or twice or even five times, they may reject it. But if you keep bringing it into the mix, they’ll eventually develop a palate for healthier choices. They’ll also learn what a healthy plate should look like: mostly vegetables or fruits with a lean protein, like chicken or fish.  

These types of meals do take time and money, but if parents can pull it off even three times a week, the whole family will benefit.

Change your activity

Don’t feel intimidated about exercise either. Yes, working out can play a big role in burning calories, but it can be expensive joining a gym or taking a class.  If that’s not an option, think instead of doing anything that gets your body moving — walking, gardening, taking the stairs, even doing your laundry. They’re all beneficial.

The important thing is not to be sedentary. Even a regular 15-minute walk around the neighborhood is a great place to start.