To Your Health!

We passed the 10% milestone last week, by introducing the fifth of the fifty-two Healthy Changes for 2011.   If you’ve done all five, you should be feeling the benefits.  Each change addressed a serious lifestyle problem for Americans:

1. Sugar reduction: To beat the AHA ceiling for added sugars (25 grams or 6 tsp. daily for women, 37 grams or 9 tsp. for men), reduce sugary drinks to one (12 oz.) per week.  A future post will tell why this rule should also apply to diet drinks.

2. Trans fat elimination: To remove trans fats from the diet, stop buying all deep fat fried foods.

3. Whole grains:  To gain the health benefits of whole grains, only eat cereals a) made from whole grains and b) with more natural fiber than added sugar.

4. Vitamin D:  Reach optimum blood levels of vitamin D by including a little midday sunshine most days, weather permitting.  (People in the northern latitudes, intolerant of sunlight, or just worried about vitamin D should consult a doctor.)

5. Exercise:  For full health and fitness, get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days.  More is better, especially if you sweat.  Do it midday to top off your vitamin D.

Drinks are important—what you drink, because of the daily volume, can greatly affect your health.  Healthy Change #1 took away nearly all your sugary drinks (and it was suggested to apply the 1/week limit to diet sodas also).  So what can you drink? 

The short answer is “water”.  The experts say about eight cups a day, depending on size and activity.  I doubted I was drinking that much so I measured water into a pitcher and used it for 24 hours.  I was drinking less than I thought—I keep a glass of water handy now.  I drink it cold as tests show this improves metabolism and weight loss.  Drink two glasses before meals and you’ll improve weight loss by another 30%, according to one study.

Are you often tired?  Do you regularly need an energy boost?  One theory of why we’re all consuming so many sugary drinks and other addicting stimulants is that poor lifestyle habits leave us perpetually tired.  We eat foods high in sugar and that puts us on the sugar roller coaster—needing a sugar fix every couple hours.  Maybe we don’t get enough sleep so start the day tired.  Or perhaps we’re living with an overload of stress and never really relax.  There are other causes of tiredness, including chronic dehydration from insufficient water.  Fatigue is a common problem judging by the popularity of unhealthy energy drinks, or the more recent use of power shots.  If you frequently need a drink to pick you up, talk it over with your doctor.

Do you sometimes tire of water and just crave variety?  I do, about once a day. Here are some ideas that will help meet your fruit and vegetable goal:

• Homemade smoothies are great because you can put the whole fruit in along with the healthy ingredients you enjoy.  (I’ll share my recipe in a later post.)  You can even slip in some vegetables.  The green drinks are great for getting your veggies.

Herbal teas are my wife’s preferred evening drink, especially when it’s cold out.

• Homemade fruit juices are best though easier if you have a juice extractor.  The store-bought juices are invariably processed from concentrates and often shipped 1000s of miles, so vitamin content suffers.

Orange juice is refreshing, especially if you squeeze the oranges yourself.  Using oranges from Costco I can make a 6 oz. drink for $.58 (two oranges).  Store-bought O.J. costs about 50% more.  Grapefruit juice is good too; I dilute it with lots of ice.

• Lacking both an apple tree and a press, I buy my apple juice.  Everyone likes apple juice; it’s the cheapest fruit juice though the high level of natural sugars can be a problem for the diabetic.

• If you purchase drinks, look for the 100% berry juices rich in antioxidants, like blueberry, pomegranate, or cranberry.  A disadvantage is these drinks must be pasteurized for safety.  

• The 100% fruit juices can be extended by following the European custom of mixing them 50/50 with sparkling water, or use tap water with ice.

Oh, I forgot milk.  I like milk, though I don’t care for the way it’s produced or processed.  We’ll come back to milk in a future post.

Please comment with your own favorite drinks and we’ll share them in a follow-up post.

Need a reminder? Download our Healthy Change reminder card. Print and fold, then place in your kitchen or on your bathroom mirror to help you remember the Healthy Change of the week.

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Reader Comments (18)

I'm enjoying your blog. On the subject of drinking, this summer, I have taken to iced tea. Very refreshing. I make a pot of green tea, add lemon verbena, mint etc from the garden, let it brew and then serve over lemon and ice.

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cregan

I have to say, I absolutely love your blog...You have so much useful advice, really...I definitely appreciate it, as someone of the nutritionally-inept-variety.
I have to say, drinking water is like my kryptonite for some reason..I have a really hard time with it...I drink diet coke and soy/rice milk like a fiend...but not much water (actually, YIKES, no water)....Definitely have to start working on this...I've been feeling unusually dehydrated lately anyway...

Thanks again for the tips, really appreciate it.

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlizzie

I love your blog. Thanks for taking the time to keep us informed. It appears I have read a lot of the same information you have. I love water. I almost exclusively drink it, well, and I love green smoothies, but I guess I consider them more of a meal. In regards to what you briefly said about milk. From what I've read about it, I agree that the way it's produced and processed has made it something many of us should be wary of drinking. We drink rice milk and unsweetened vanilla almond milk at our house and love it.

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina

I came across your blog today after doing a search on google for "word of wisdom" and "celiac disease". Trying to reconcile the two in my mind lol. I have been "a bit" overweight since the birth of my 3,4,5, and 6th kids. I've tried the occasional cleanse, only to have the weight come back in record speed. I've tried a couple diets but nothing I have been "able" (mentally, I admit) to stick with. I started the new year with a desire to make some changes. Not only did I want to lose 20 lbs. (that's just "a bit", right?), but I also want to be healthier. With all the fad diets out there, the information can become confusing and scary. One "doctor" will completely discredit another. There's "research" to support every viewpoint, even when said viewpoints differ drastically. I felt overwhelmed, not KNOWING nutrition myself, I felt I just needed to trust the experts, but how can I trust them when they contradict at every turn? It finally hit me like a ton of bricks. There was only one health document I knew I could trust. The W.O.W. I began searching for a diet plan that followed the concepts found in the Word of Wisdom. In the meantime, I began the new year cutting out all sugar, cutting back on meat and dairy, and ramping up my water intake. During January I found a book that I read cover to cover. Not overly captivating, lol, but very informative. I felt it had what I was looking for, and started the diet within it on Feb. 1st. The book is "Eat to Live" if you want to check it out. I am excited to read the book you mentioned on here, I have seen it at costco and almost bought it. Now I will. I am happy to report I have lost 13lbs so far this year, and feel so much better about how I am treating my body. I will become an avid follower of your blog, it is such a great idea and something I have been looking for. Thanks for your time and effort. I'm glad to know there are others who understand that the Lord knows what he is doing. :)

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Hi Skip! My trainer recently told me that we should drink 1/2 our body weight IN OUNCES of water a day. For me, that's almost 90 ounces! I couldn't believe it. I grabbed a water bottle and measured out how many times I'd need to refill it in a day. Then I tracked it over the course of 5 days to help me get into the groove. It was a crazy about - about 10 glasses of water. I never quite managed that, but did manage 8 and boy when your body gets used to it, it is amazing how you feel and you notice how thirsty you always were and are.

I find that if I don't pull out that water bottle in the morning and/or write it down, I don't even get 8 in some days. As soon as I go back to it, I notice the difference right off. Anywho, just a little tidbit to add to you excellent post!

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoy Fisher

Great reminder to drink more water... Can't wait for your post on milk.

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I really enjoy sparkling water. I find it super refreshing and a nice way to add variety while still getting my water every day. And I'll admit a minor addiction to diet Coke. I'm working on it!

Another great post Skip!

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa


i love to drink water infused with various flavours - a slice of lemon or lime, a bit of torn up mint, or my personal favourite, a few slices of cucumber. all surprisingly simple ways to make water something special, and it feels sort of luxurious too.

on a side note, i just wanted to thank you for writing so unpretentiously and without the preachy tone that many healthy lifestyle blogs take on. thank you for not claiming to know everything but including research. i love that you offer ideas that can be consciously made each day. i look forward to future posts!

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

I drink lots of water with Tru Lemon crystallized lemon. I have a tendency towards kidney stones, so the lemon in the water is a must for me. The crystallized lemon is in a packet the size of a sugar packet and is easy to tote anywhere I go. The lemon makes the water so much more refreshing. If I didn't add the lemon, I know I wouldn't drink the necessary water.

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy K. at The Boom Club

My sister told me about your blog so I've been reading along for a couple of weeks now. I too was searching the WOW for help in guiding my eating. I live in South America right now and have the luxury of inexpensive fruits and veggies at every corner. I drink water throughout the day and a green smoothie in the morning (working my way to 32 oz per day). I've wondered a lot lately about whether drinking green tea and products like Coke contradict the WOW teachings. It's a gray line I know. Looking forward to the next post.

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCherilyn

Making water my staple drink has been the most challenging of challenges for me. Cutting sugar, no problem. Giving up fast food, easy. I've been fast-food free since 2006. I even cut out all cheese last year. But I can't seem to make water my go-to drink. Even though I know how critical it is.

Where I work, we believe in these small actions. They really do lead to lasting change. We even created an Adobe AIR desktop widget for drinking water (called EveryDRINK), and still I struggle.

Thanks for sending out positive message into the world and supporting small actions!

All the best,
Alicia Benjamin
Social Media Manager

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

i'm excited about your blog. . .found it through inchmark. i love having a new goal every week. . .bite-sized chunks to work on, if you will.

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjulie

i have been trying for years to get my husband off of diet soda. he drinks water too, but says that sometimes he just NEEDS the bubbles! for Christmas this year, i got him the SodaStream-- a little machine that carbonates water. he loves it and it is really helping him to kick his soda habit!

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermeredith

Great blog. I have been doing almost exclusively water since the New Year. I will have a Diet Soda once or twice a week. Someone commented at our Super Bowl party that my skin looked great & I know that's a benefit from the water!

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAimee

I actually do pretty well at drinking water. Some days more some days less, but for the most part I think I'm okay. Something else I love to drink though is warmed water with lemon squeezed into it. I love this in the morning. Especially if the house is quiet :). I also like cold lemon water and once I had water with cucumber slices and mint leaves. It was so refreshing! I'm not sure if there's a ratio to follow or not with that one. I've never made it myself.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMandi

I dehydrate easily, especially in front of the computer (and I work in front of the computer) and when I'm sleeping. In order to make sure I drink enough, I keep a 1 litre glass bottle of water next to me when I'm working, finish the first one before lunch, the second in the afternoon, and, most day's, a third one in the evening, though I don't measure that amount any more as long as I actually drink more than two glasses. I have noticed that the glass bottle seems to keep the water cooler than the plastic bottle I used previously, makes the water taste better (which makes me wonder about all the nasty chemicals I must have ingested over the years, since I can actually taste it). The glass bottle also looks nicer (which is encouraging) and doesn't spill when I knock it over (which I seem to do at least once a day, despite having kept a water bottle next to my desk for nearly a decade now).

I also drink a lot of herbal tea (hibiscus tea is nice and refreshing when it's hot and tastes just as nice when it's cold, the same goes for peppermint tea). I am lucky in that the water tastes really good where I live, but when I visit my father, whose water has an irony taste that I don't like, I flavour it with lemon, lime, ginger, cucumber, elderflower, verbena or a sprig of peppermint or even a couple of rose leaves. It really isn't complicated to do as there is not ratio to follow, you just slice it and put it in the water. Another nice way to get "water" during summer is to make water melon juice, just cut the melon in chunks, take off the peel, and blend it with a mixer staff. If you're really laxy, just eat the melon as it is (as I said, I dehydrate easily, but I actually survived on water melon for a week when the only other drinks option was soda).

Righ now, during the cold season, my favourite drink next to pure water or "a nice cuppa" is a hot lemon toddy made of the juice of half a lemon (more if it's a small one), a thumbs nail sized piece of ginger cut into pieces, half a teaspoon of honey, topped up with hot water.

February 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMims

Great post and a great reminder to stay hydrated! For 2011, I am trying one resolution per month. For February, it is to workout every day. I like coming here to get some inspiration in my journey!

February 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

Water is definitely a go-to. Another quencher for me is blueberry green tea. I like it hot in the winter, and iced in the summer. Soooo delicious! :)

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramber

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