15 Insider Tips to Keep Healthy All Year

We all want to stay healthy, but the trick is figuring out how. Here are our insider tips to keep healthy. Try them out, and see what you think.


We all want to stay healthy, but the trick is figuring out how. Here are our insider tips to keep healthy. Try them out, and see what you think.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Cut back on salt, saturated fat, and sugar. Switch to whole grains. Exercise for at least an hour each day.

Many people know all that and more. But how do you translate those broad strokes into the dozens of diet and exercise decisions you make each day? Here are some of our favorite tips to keep healthy.

Buy a bag of cut veggies

Maybe you shouldn’t be too tired (or rushed or distracted) to wash and cut up your own broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. But you are. Don’t sweat it.

Companies like Dole and Mann’s are happy to do it for you. And the cost isn’t much higher if you consider that there’s no waste.

Replace processed meats with no-nitrite-added deli meats

Red and processed meats are a “convincing cause of colorectal cancer,” say the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research. One of our top tips to keep healthy is to eat no more than about 18 ounces of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) a week and nonprocessed meats at all, advised the experts.

“Ounce for ounce, consuming processed meat increases risk twice as much as consuming red meat,” said their report.

The nitrites that are added to processed meats may make them worse than other red meats. To avoid them—and to dodge some sodium—look for no-nitrite-added, lower-sodium or no-salt-added deli meats.

Try a veggie burger

People who eat more red meat have a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Seafood and poultry eaters do not.

But fish and chicken don’t taste like burgers. Some veggie burgers do. And soy-based burgers are protein-rich. (Check the label. Grain- or veggie-based burgers, like Gardenburgers, have less than 10 grams of protein.)

Veggie burgers have more salt than ground beef, but at least you don’t have to worry about food poisoning from E. coli.

Turn spinach into salads

A 9 oz. bag of spinach makes three three- cup servings, says the Dole label. (In the OmniHeart study, one cup was a serving.)

A three-cup serving has 10 percent of a day’s potassium, plus 510 percent of a day’s vitamin K, 160 percent of a day’s vitamin A, 40 percent of a day’s vitamin C and folate, 15 percent of a day’s magnesium and iron, and 8 percent of a day’s calcium and fiber. All for 20 calories. 20!

Any greens are good greens, but spinach is a superstar. And so easy.

Buy a set of ramekins

Look for ramekins (or other bowls) that hold just a half cup (4 oz.) of food. Use them to serve frozen yogurt, ice cream, or other sweets. The serving may look small, but it matches the serving on Nutrition Facts labels. It’s a single scoop of ice cream.

Eat plain yogurt or mix plain with sweetened yogurt

Unsweetened yogurt offers the most nutrient bang for your calorie buck. For extra protein, try creamy-even-if-it’s-fat-free plain Greek yogurt. If plain yogurt is too tart for you, mix plain and sweetened.

Replace a side of rice, potatoes, or pasta with beans

Swap that side of rice or pasta or potatoes for a bean or lentil dish. Why?

In the OmniHeart study, the higher-protein diet (and the higher-unsaturated- fat diet) led to lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol than the higher-carb diet. And half the protein came from plant foods.

“You can make bean salads and bean soups,” says Janis Swain, the dietitian who planned the OmniHeart meals. “Beans are inexpensive, so it’s an economical way to get a good protein-vegetable mix.”

Cover half your plate with vegetables or fruit

Forget the “side” of veggies. They should occupy more plate real estate than your protein or pasta, rice, or potatoes.

Snack tip

Lay slices of cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, or papaya on a plate, squeeze on fresh lime juice, eat.

Switch from tuna to salmon

Canned salmon has more healthy omega-3 fats than canned tuna, and the salmon is almost always wild.

Squeeze in fruits and veggies

Add diced bell pepper and halved grape tomatoes to tuna salad. Add grapes and diced apples to chicken salad. Add sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions to pasta. You’ll feel full on fewer calories.

Work out to TV

Watching TV? Why not do some strength training? Crunches, push-ups, biceps curls, lunges, you name it—they may even be easier to get through in front of the tube.

Got a treadmill or stationary bicycle? You know where to park it.

Salad, not sandwich

Sometimes our tips to keep healthy are about choices in the moment. Should you pick a main-dish salad or a sandwich? Go with the salad. Most restaurants offer enough chicken, nuts, beans, and other toppings to fill you up.

No cheese, please

Restaurants squeeze cheese in or on nearly every sandwich, salad, pasta, taco, and burger, and on many kinds of steaks, fries, chicken breasts, vegetables, soups, breads, biscuits, and rolls. At some restaurants, you’ll find cheese on pretty much every non-Asian dish on the menu. Who needs the calories and saturated fat?

Ice cream: get “kid” size

Order the smallest serving (not necessarily a “small”) of ice cream or frozen yogurt. Add 25 calories for a cake cone, 60 for a sugar cone, and 160 for a waffle cone. A chocolate-dipped waffle cone adds about 300 calories. Urp.