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Evolution, not revolution for healthy 2014

By Margie Mansure (

Article Published: Dec. 24, 2013 | Modified: Dec. 24, 2013
Evolution, not revolution for healthy 2014

Moving into January is a natural time for self-reflection.

You may find yourself considering new goals or thinking about ways to be the best possible you. But before resolving to do something extreme, like an ironman triathlon or Paleo diet, ask yourself if you can live with the lifestyle required for at least six months. Even with the best of intentions, extreme lifestyle changes are often unsustainable.

For overall improvement in health and/or weight loss, first take a close look at the quantity and quality of your diet. There are many online food logs and mobile apps that are easy to use. Check out SparkPeople at or MyFitnessPal at

Here are five of the easiest, most impactful practices to lose weight or just get healthier:
Add more green salads to your life. Consider taking a large one for lunch, with lean chicken or fish and a good variety of vegetables. For dressing, use a small amount of olive oil and flavored vinegar.
Plate up half to three-fourths your normal portion at meals. After eating, wait 10 minutes. If you are still hungry, eat a small amount.

Evaluate the calories you are drinking. Sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol can really add up. Lower calorie alternatives include juice diluted with carbonated water and herbal teas.

Take a look at your favorite recipes and think about how you can make them healthier. Eating more vegetables is important, so add them to almost any recipe. Fresh spinach is great in spaghetti sauce, burritos, tacos and on pizza.

Try different whole grains, such as quinoa, millet, barley, brown rice or oats. They add tasty variety and nutritional value.

Just like eating vegetables, physical activity is essential for ultimate health. Running burns a lot of calories, but if you hate to run, you won’t stick with it. Somehow, there is always time in the day for activities we enjoy. For longevity, enjoyable physical activity is essential.

Here is a recipe template for a hearty salad. Salads are a great way to get the micro-nutrients you need without many calories. Including lean protein will keep you satisfied.

Hearty Green Salad

2-3 cups torn or chopped mixed greens
1 cup other chopped vegetables: avocado, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, summer squash, tomatoes
¼ - ½ cup chopped fruit, if desired: apple, berries, oranges, pear
2-3 ounces chopped of protein: baked chicken, fish, beans, nuts
¼ - ½ cup leftover whole grains as available, such as brown rice or quinoa
1 ounce 2-percent shredded cheese, if desired

Mix 1 tablespoon flavored vinegar with 1 tablespoon or less olive oil for dressing and toss.
Check out Art of Oil on King Street in downtown Boone for great flavor.


Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email, or call (828) 264-3061.

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