Five resolutions to improve overall health

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—At the beginning of every year, people begin to think about New Year’s resolutions. For some, included in their resolutions are promises to eat right, exercise and lose weight. Paul Ratté, ND, a naturopathic practitioner at Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Natural Care Center at Woodwinds in Woodbury, Minn., suggests that people make 2007 the year when they make new choices for improved overall health.

Americans have the firm belief in weight loss as the answer to poor health. However, according to Ratté, individuals have to be healthy to lose weight.

“Improving health for the long term involves establishing personal nutrition habits,” says Ratté. “Throw away the diet book and the ‘magic bullets’ and start the process of planning better, shopping smarter, and eating healthier. I don’t like the word ‘diet.’ Diet means either you are following it, or you aren’t. I prefer rules.” Rules, says Ratté, can be followed 80/20—80 percent of the time you follow the rules, and 20 percent of the time you don’t, which is better than not following them at all.

According to Ratté, the following five rules should be followed to obtain and maintain a healthy lifestyle:

Don’t skip meals, and never skip breakfast. “You need more protein for breakfast, which will give you more energy for the entire day. Skipping meals slows down the metabolism,” says Ratté. People should eat six small meals a day, and avoid eating late. According to Ratté, “Our best digestion time is between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Eating a large meal an hour before bed is hard on the metabolism.”

Plan your food and cook your food. “We spent more time in the kitchen 100 years ago than we do now,” says Ratté. “At some level, we have to spend more time in the kitchen.” Attempt to spend some time on Sunday to plan your meals for the week. Planning meals leaves less room for trips to McDonald’s.

Eat more vegetables. “Potatoes aren’t vegetables in my book,” says Ratté. “I like things with a lot of color, including leafy vegetables. We all benefit from vegetables, a potent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.” Again, shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid canned vegetables, which lose a lot of fiber when processed.

Turn off the television. “Television is inactive,” says Ratté. “We should watch TV moderately, if at all.” Limiting exposure to TV opens you and your family up to other activities. Studies suggest that the more TV you watch, the more obese you are,” says Ratté.

Move it or lose it. Ratté likes to focus on activity rather than exercise. “Exercise is a dirty word,” he says. Ratté cites the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota and American Heart Association’s campaign, which encourages people to take part in physical activity for 10 minutes, three times a day, as a good way to increase physical activity. “If we don’t use our muscles, we lose them; if we don’t use our bones, we lose them; if we don’t use our brain, we lose it,” says Ratté.

Following these guidelines will help you on the road to better health. Viewing these habits as a part of your lifestyle, rather than a diet, will help you keep your resolution of eating right, exercising and losing weight. Ratte’ echoes, “We can’t do healthy. We need to be healthy.”

For additional information, go to, a Web site focusing on natural approaches to health and wellness hosted by Northwestern Health Sciences University.

From the Jan. 10-16, 2007, issue

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