Cheater's Guide to Healthy Living

If you know the recommendations but can't find time to follow them, this 'Cheater's Guide' is for you

By Sherry Rauh
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Eat more vegetables, exercise almost every day, and don't forget the sunscreen. If you know the recommendations but can't find time to follow them, this "Cheater's Guide" is for you.

Cheater's Guide to Healthy Living

WebMD compiled the following guidelines and shortcuts based on input from leaders in the fields of nutrition, dentistry, dermatology, mental health and physical fitness.

Guidelines Shortcuts
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Limit saturated fats, trans fats (also called hydrogenated fats), cholesterol, and salt
  • Try fruit smoothies, V8 and drinkable vegetable soups; add dried fruit to cereal or trail mix
  • If you're hooked on fast food, choose a side salad, fruit cup, or yogurt instead of a side of fries
Oral Hygiene
  • Brush and floss your teeth every day
  • Sorry, no shortcut for brushing and flossing
Skin Care
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 year-round
  • Look for moisturizers and makeup that contain sunscreen
Mental Health
  • Read the local paper; play video games
  • Practice "belly breathing" for one minute at a time; make the most of relaxing activities you already do -- listening to music, walking, stretching
Physical Fitness
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days
  • Exercise for 15 minutes twice each day or 10 minutes three times each day
  • Sneak in exercise during ordinary activities -- take the stairs at work, carry your own groceries, lift weights during the nightly news

Read on for more tips and tricks to transform your busy lifestyle into a healthy one.

If you're not eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, American Dietetic Association spokesman Dave Grotto, RD, suggests getting the most out of the fruits and veggies you do eat. That means looking for variety and intensity of color -- cherries, berries, and pomegranates are good examples, as are squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, and deep red tomatoes. To squeeze in more vegetables during your day, look for juice blends that contain green vegetables and try pouring tomato sauce over a side dish. Drinkable vegetable soups are a good option for people who need to eat on the go.

"Try to add one positive thing rather than avoiding things," Grotto tells WebMD. "That's less stressful than giving up something." For example, if you're hooked on the drive-through at lunchtime, Grotto suggests having a side salad with your burger. This strategy adds nutrients to your diet without drastically changing your routine.

Quick Picks for Each Food Group
Grains High-fiber whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, or rice
Vegetables Juice blends that contain green vegetables, drinkable vegetable soups, tomato sauce, V8
Fruits Fruit smoothies, dried cherries or berries added to cereal or trail mix, fruit cup as a side dish
Dairy Drinkable yogurt with active cultures -- go low fat or fat free
Meats/Proteins Soups with beans and legumes, deli sandwiches with lean meats, edamame (young soybeans that can be eaten like nuts). Bake it, broil it, or grill it.
Fats Olive oil added to salad or pasta, trail mix with nuts and seeds

Oral Hygiene

While some studies have suggested that mouthwash might be a substitute for flossing, the American Dental Association maintains that flossing is the best way to remove food particles and reduce plaque between teeth. But if you can't manage to floss every day, what about committing to two or three times per week? WebMD put that question to American Dental Association spokesman Richard Price, DDS. His reply: "Sure, if you're going to wash your face every third day or shower every fourth day."