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Friday, January 9, 2009

Just kick your Worst Health Habits

All of us have some bad habits we’d like to kick. To improve your health, make up your mind that you are ready to change. Then choose a successful strategy that will work for you and the habit you want to break.
Here are three techniques:
• Cold turkey This is a good choice for people who are determined to change and don’t want to mess around any longer. It’s best for true physical addictions and for people who tend to have trouble moderating their behavior.
• Substitute In many cases, you can substitute a healthy behavior for an unhealthy one.
• Set limits For some people, putting a time or quantity limit on a behavior works.

Smoking.
All three strategies can succeed. Cold turkey is the toughest but quickest route. Choose a time when stress is at a minimum and you have a support network. A nicotine substitute is another option. They come in a variety of strengths and delivery methods, including gum, patches, sprays, and lozenges. If you’re not ready to quit, set limits on the times you allow yourself to smoke, or cut down on the number of cigarettes.

Sugar.

Cold turkey is the ticket. You may experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but most people find they disappear after two weeks. One healthy substitute is 2 to 3 ounces of dark chocolate daily, which may have some antioxidant benefits when eaten in moderation.


Eating too fast.

Americans eat while driving, watching TV, or standing in front of the fridge. This encourages us to eat too fast and often too much. Slowing down improves digestion, allows us to recognize when we’re full, and provides more enjoyment from our food. Set limits by putting down your fork between each bite.


Snacking at night.

Munching after dinner can add up to hundreds of extra calories. First, eat a good breakfast with both fiber and protein. Shifting calories to earlier in the day cuts your appetite later. Set limits on the amount of snacks in your house. And choose a time when the kitchen is “closed” every night.


Sleep deprivation.

Too little sleep leads to loss of productivity and even may raise blood pressure. Set limits by picking a bedtime and sticking to it. Sleep is a learned behavior, and getting into a routine helps the process.

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