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Stealth Health: Get Healthy Without Really Trying

Living healthier doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming, experts say
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Tripping Over Baby Steps

Of course, not everyone is certain that baby steps can walk you all the way to good health. Marc Siegel, MD, a clinical associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine, says that while doing something is certainly better than doing nothing, making such small changes is like using a Band-aid to stop a hemorrhage.

"It's a small, gimmicky idea to target people with very unhealthy lifestyles, and for some it may be useful," says Siegel, author of False Alarm: the Truth about the Epidemic of Fear. But he fears that for most people, it's sending the wrong message.

"In some ways it's a resignation, an admission that things can't be changed -- and that's certainly not the long-term answer," Siegel tells WebMD.

Katz concedes that the Stealth Health approach may not be right for everybody.

"There is a trade-off because if you try to make the pursuit of health easier for people, you run the risk of leading them to believe they don't need to do very much -- and that would be the wrong message," he says.

At the same time, Katz believes that for those who find making health changes a daunting task, Stealth Health techniques can make a difference.

"If you want the really big gains, there has to be some pain," says Katz. "But there is a lot to be said for the idea that you can make some gains with little or no pain, and that's infinitely better than no gains."

Try the Stealth Health Approach

Tempted to give "Stealth Health" a try? Katz recommends picking any three of the following 12 changes and incorporating them into your life for four days. When you feel comfortable with those changes, pick three others. Once you've incorporate all dozen changes, you should start to feel a difference within a couple of weeks, he says.

To Improve Nutrition:

1. Buy whole foods -- whether canned, frozen, or fresh from the farm -- and use them in place of processed foods whenever possible.
2. Reject foods and drinks made with corn syrup, a calorie-dense, nutritionally empty sweetener that many believe is worse for the body than sugar, says Katz.
3. Start each dinner with a mixed green salad. Not only will it help reduce your appetite for more caloric foods, but it also will automatically add veggies to your meal.

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