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Physical Health: Fun Ways to Get Fit and Trim

10 ways to get moving and shed pounds!

7. Sneak in Healthier Cooking at Home

You'll have more energy to work out -- and you'll start to shed pounds--if you eat more healthfully. One good way to do that is to reduce total calories by reducing the fat content of your meals, says Victor J. Stevens, PhD, senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.  Keep an eye on total salt and sugar, too. Try to reduce each gradually in recipes and favorite dishes.  

"Often times the family will not notice gradual reductions in these things," he says. "You can just do it." He suggests keeping favorite recipes but de-fatting them. Put in less butter, for instance, or substitute fat-free milk for 2%.

8. Plan Meals as a Family

Comana in San Diego suggests involving the whole family in healthy meals. Ask your children or your spouse to help look for healthy, simple recipes. Make it a game. See who can find the healthiest recipe that's also simple, he says. Then plan meals together, letting everyone pick favorite foods or dishes.

"Take the emphasis off the food, and make meals more of an activity," he says, with the focus on planning and team work.

9. Make Portion Sizes a Math Problem

Reducing portion sizes is a fun and simple way to shed pounds, says Comana. "You don't need measuring cups," he says. Make it fun.

His suggestion: Put a typical size portion on your plate, then remove 5% to 10% of it. Is it a standard portion now, or still too much? Teach your children – and yourself – how to eyeball it. According to the American Dietetic Association:

  • 3 ounces of meat is equal to a deck of cards
  • One cup of pasta is about the size of a tennis ball
  • One bagel is about the size of a hockey puck
  • 1 1/2 ounces of cheese is the size of three dominoes
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is roughly equivalent to ping-pong ball
  • A half cup of vegetables is the size of a light bulb

10. Turn Your Children into Assistant Shoppers

As you focus on buying healthier foods, appoint your young children as assistants.

"With kids, it can be very effective to recruit them as helpers when shopping," Stevens says. "Most kids like to read labels and get to be experts about food."

Indeed, a trip to the supermarket can become a “healthy foods” treasure hunt. Let the children select the healthy vegetable or whole grain they want to serve for dinner. Encourage them to read labels to spot hidden sugars or fat.

“The more the kids are involved in shopping and cooking, the more likely they are to eat new things," says Stevens.

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Reviewed on June 29, 2010
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