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Monday Momentum: 3 things for better health

Need to be motivated on a Monday for better health?

To keep it simple, just pick from three things to get the week off on the right path.

1. Choose low-fat and low-sugar foods to help reduce the fat and calories overall in the diet. Fat contains more than twice the calories as the same amount of sugar, starch or protein.

2. Measure food to have a real idea of how much is being eaten each day. Use a metal or plastic measuring cup for solid food and use a glass measuring cup for liquids. Invest in a food scale to keep track of meat, fish, cheese, bread, pasta or rice. Meat should be weighed after it's cooked. Four ounces of raw meat equals 3 ounces of cooked meat. Recommendations are to limit meat to the 3 ounce portion, or about the size of an average fist or the size of a deck of cards.

3. Can't make a complete change, cut back a little. The National Diabetes Prevention Program recommends making at least a small change. If french fries are part of the regular diet, cutting back to once a week can make a serious dent in the fat gram intake. At the salad bar, use a regular spoon instead of the ladle provided to put on salad dressing (which can be a hidden fat gram source) or look at options for low fat and calorie dressings such as oil and vinegar-based dressings.

"A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2003 found that women who used oil-and-vinegar salad dressings frequently (at least five times a week) had a 50 percent lower risk of fatal coronary artery disease than those who rarely ate this type of dressing. This link persisted even after the researchers adjusted for heart disease risk factors and consumption of vegetables," WebMD reported, adding even if people prefer creamy dressings, there are lower calorie versions available with 8 grams or less of fat per 2 tablespoons.