Nutrition Habits Your Doctor Wishes You'd Make Stick

Make these eight simple changes to get on the road to better health.

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Breaking Bad (Habits)

As over two-thirds of the folks in the U.S. are overweight or obese, doctors come across many clients who can break a few bad habits to help them shed pounds and become healthier. We asked physicians throughout the country which habit they wish their clients would break.

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Keep It Real

"I wish people would break the habit of using the latest trendy term when talking about food. Fads come and go, but what always stays true is that nutritionally we need to eat real foods. These are foods that are non- or minimally processed and that don't have unpronounceable ingredients in them. These real foods should be fuel for your body, rather than [ones that are] gimmicky or satisfying in the short term but unhealthy in the long term. My examples of real foods: avocados, bananas, eggs!" — Jennifer Ashton, M.D., M.S., FACOG, ABC News Chief Women's Health Correspondent, Good Morning America, Board Certified OB-GYN and Obesity Medicine, Author of Eat This, Not That When You’re Expecting,

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Opt for Whole Fruit Instead of Juiced

"Is having a pressed juice or smoothie the same as having fruit? You do get helpful nutrients, but if your goal is weight loss, you may want to reach for a whole piece of fruit instead. That's because juices and smoothies are packed with calories that you can gulp down much more easily and quickly than if you were eating whole fruit. Plus, all the great fiber — which helps you feel full and helps slow absorption of the sugars — is taken out of fruit juice. Maybe choose a whole apple or orange instead?" — Christopher Schultz, M.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City

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Instead of Making Changes As Individuals, Do It As a Family

"Parents, caregivers, grandparents and siblings are powerful influences on a child’s behavior and may not realize how important they are as role models for healthy living. In addition, when the entire family takes on healthier nutrition and activity, they change the home environment, routines and ways they communicate, all of which are powerful supports to the child. For example, instead of constantly reminding a child to cut down on sugared beverages, a family who is 'in it together' may eliminate sugared drinks from their shopping list, provide chilled water in the fridge and put the money they save into a family activity fund." — Sandra G. Hassink, M.D., FAAP, Director of AAP Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight

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Stop Thinking a Healthy Lifestyle Is All-or-Nothing

"Nutrition is more than eating healthy foods, and isn't about giving up all your favorite foods either. It's about using balance to figure out how to fuel your family with food that tastes good and is good for you!" — Margot Savoy, M.D., MPH, FAAFP, CPE, FABC, CMQ, family physician at Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del.

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Exercise Outdoors Instead of Inside

"Exercise outdoors if you can. Working out in a gym is of course a good option, but going for a jog or walk outside among leafy green trees helps not only your heart but also your mind, reducing stress and anxiety more effectively. You may also find you run faster and the miles go by more quickly than on a treadmill." — Christopher Schultz, M.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City

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Reduce Added Sugar

"If I could change one habit for my patients, it would be to reduce the amount of sugary foods (like frosted cereal, jam and candy) the family consumes. Caries is a progressive infectious disease, which can be transmitted from mother to child, and the simple act of kissing your child can cause children to become infected with bacteria that cause tooth decay." — Dr. Sidney Whitman, Chairman, New Jersey Oral Health Coalition

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Meat in the Middle

"The American diet has long put meat on the marquee, while most of the world's most-healthful diets give the marquee to plant foods and de-emphasize meat. Now that the reasons for doing so extend beyond human health, and relate so urgently to water use, climate change, ethics and the environment, it's a shift I hope everyone will make." — David L. Katz, M.D., MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM, Director of Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby,Conn., Founder of True Health Initiative

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Stop the Snacking

"You may be eating healthful, balanced meals, but mindless snacking (a few candies at the office, leftover chips from lunch, granola bars and so on) can add up and contribute to weight gain and elevated blood sugars over the years. The snacking habit can be tough to break. Try listening to your body and have a snack only when you feel true hunger. You most likely will be satisfied by eating three meals and one or two snacks per day." — Amy von Sydow Green, M.D., M.S., R.D., LDN, Dietitian at Penn Metabolic Medicine in Philadelphia, Instagram @amysilveria

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