Your diet: When small steps equal big change

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healthy bites 2.JPGBy Amber Presley

Most people kicked off the New Year with plans for a healthier 2013. But many of us have already fallen off track.
Luckily, it's never too late to refocus. MD Anderson's Healthy Bites challenge is perfect for anyone who wants to take small steps to better health. 

"Each month, Healthy Bites focuses on one diet change that can potentially reduce your risk for cancer," says Mary Ellen Herndon, a wellness dietitian at MD Anderson and the Healthy Bites challenge coach. "Last month, we focused on eating breakfast every day. In February, we're asking you to eat a healthy meal or snack every five to six hours."

Below, Herndon shares answers to questions she's received from Healthy Bites participants. 

What should I do if I'm not hungry in the morning?
You should eat breakfast within 1 ½ hours of waking up. Many people aren't hungry and may even feel nauseated when they wake up.

Here are a few things you can do to help:
1. Drink eight ounces of water right after you wake up. This can sometimes trigger your appetite.
2. Make a shake and drink your breakfast instead.
2. Eat a small portion of your breakfast and save the rest for later.

Remember, the sooner you eat, the sooner your metabolism gets going.

What can I eat for breakfast if I'm diabetic?
If you have diabetes, consult your physician and/or dietitian first to find out what foods to include in your diet.

The January Healthy Bites guide provides some great options for breakfast items low in sugar and saturated fat, including: 
  • 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter, with 1 slice of whole grain bread and an apple (210 calories, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of fat)
  • 6 ounces of plain non-fat yogurt with ½ cup cooked oatmeal, 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts and an orange (340 calories, 40-45 grams of carbohydrates, 8-10 grams of fat)
  • 2 egg whites, 1 teaspoon of canola oil, 1 slice of whole grain bread and 1 tablespoon of avocado (200 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 8-9 grams of fat)
Is it okay to have protein bars and shakes for breakfast?
The four ingredients for a healthy, balanced breakfast include: protein, whole grains, fruits and/or vegetables, and a healthy fat. Usually, a protein bar or shake will include the protein and healthy fat you need. But you still need to get your fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Also, be aware that protein bars and shakes may have more calories and contain processed ingredients.

LEARN MORE ON: The Healthy Bites Breakfast Challenge

I normally eat regular meals every 5-6 hours.  Should I add a snack as well?
If your next meal is more than five to six hours away, you should have a small snack, even if you're not hungry. 

On the other hand, if your next meal is less than five to six hours away, you can have a small snack, but only if you're hungry. A snack should have 100 to 200 calories, depending on your personal daily calorie needs.

LEARN MORE ON: The Healthy Bites Eat Every 5-6 Hours Challenge

Is Healthy Bites the right nutrition program for me?
Healthy Bites is appropriate for most people. But, if you're under the care of a physician for a current health condition or are on medications, check with your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.

Healthy Bites is not a weight loss program. We want to help people improve their diet by making one small change each month in 2013. It's these small changes that can lead to bigger, more impactful changes over time.

Want to join the Healthy Bites challenge?
Want to join the Healthy Bites challenge? Just subscribe to MD Anderson's Focused on Health newsletter. Each month, you'll get a new challenge by email along with information you can use to help protect your body from cancer.

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