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5 Steps to Getting Ahead:
Food and Fitness

By Craig Middleton

We may love our carbs as much as everyone else. However, thousands of studies have shown that eating a multitude of fruits and vegetables every day will give you a load of benefits. These benefits include protection against heart disease, cancer, and many of the signs of aging.

Experts tell us that we should get at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. However, this amount can seem daunting to a lot of people. One way to get in enough fruits and vegetables to squeeze out some of its benefits is to have one or two servings at every meal. Getting in your fruits and veggies seem a lot easier if it means adding a banana to your smoothie or a salad to your steak dinner.

This article will give you five steps that everyone can take to get healthier. While most of us do the best we can on a daily basis, we can all do a little better when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle.

1. Try to Cut Your Liquid Calories
Soda gives you nothing but calories as it is just sugar water. While diet soda doesn't come with any calories, it also doesn't come with any nutritional value. You might already know this, so you decided to drink smoothies or fruit juice instead. But these types of drinks have the same amount of calories as soda.

When it comes to a healthy drink, your best bet is water. While the experts recommend that you drink eight glasses a day, many people don't like plain water. You can drink flavored seltzer water or flavored water if you fall in this category.

2. Try Eating More Fiber
While fiber can keep you full, it can also lower your risk of cancer and can help you lose those unwanted pounds. One way you can get more fiber into your diet is to swap out white bread for its whole grain counterpart. When you go grocery shopping, look and see if the first ingredient on the bread is "whole grain."

3. Shop For Natural Foods
Shopping for natural and organic foods is a healthy lifestyle no-brainer. When you eat foods without additives, you won't eat a lot of unnatural chemicals. Take a box of Twinkies and see if you can pronounce the ingredient names. Natural and organic ingredients don't contain excessive human-made chemicals.

When you shop for organic foods, you'll ingest foods that got harvested without pesticides, which many studies have linked with a higher risk of cancer. Some other studies have found that organic foods contain higher levels of antioxidants and nutrients.

It may not seem like such a big deal to pick the organic celery over its non-organic counterpart or the whole wheat loaf of bread over the grocery chain's white bread. But it will make a huge nutritional difference over time.

4. Shop Smart
You already stay far away from the Twinkies and the doughnuts when you go to the grocery store. That's a great start. But those granola bars and TV dinners you buy can sometimes contain as many harmful ingredients as the Twinkies you avoid.

You could look for foods that have low or no saturated fat, high fiber, and low sodium. Or you can bypass the grocery store altogether and get healthy meal delivery to your home a couple of times a week.

5. Reign In That Sweet Tooth
Limit the amount of refined sugar you eat. Refined sugar contains a lot of calories and is devoid of essential nutrients. When selecting cereals, pick the low-sugar option. Eat fruit for dessert instead of that molten lava cake. One big way you can cut down your sugar intake is to stop drinking soda. While cutting down on sugar may not seem pleasant at first, it will make a huge difference later.

Craig Middleton has been in the real estate and home decor business for most of his professional career. He graduated at UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in Marketing. He now is the founder of Treetop Real Estate and enjoys building connections with other professionals.

Healthy Balance
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