Being healthy and active can help give you the
energy to keep up with the demands of your busy
life, take better care of yourself, and be there
for the people who depend on you.
If you are overweight and inactive, you are
more likely to get:
You may improve your health if you
Move More and Eat
Better! This booklet gives you tips
on how to get moving and eat well even when your
life is busy.
- type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar)
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- certain forms of cancer
Being active and making healthy food choices
is good for your health. But that is not the only
reason to move more and eat better. You can:
- Have more energy and less stress.
- Feel better about yourself.
- Tone your body (without losing your
- Look better in your clothes.
- Set a good example for your children and
Your family and friends can be great sources
of motivation and support as you take on a
healthier lifestyle. Ask them to join you in
healthy eating and physical activity, since these
activities are important for them, too. By making
healthy choices together, it may seem easier to
eat right and be active.
Try to do at least 30 minutes of
moderate-intensity physical activity (like brisk
walking) on most days of the week. It is not as
hard as you may think, and you do not have to do
the whole 30 minutes at one time. Try these
tips to get past things that keep you from being
“I don’t have time for
You can “sneak” it into your day, a
few minutes at a time. Get started by making
these small changes in your daily routine:
- Get off the bus or subway one stop early
and walk the rest of the way (be sure the area
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator (be
sure the stairs are well lit).
- You do not have to do your entire workout
in one block of time. Break it
up—taking three 10-minute walks during
your day may be easier than taking one
- Walk and talk with a friend at lunch.
- Put more energy into housework and yard
- Make regular appointments for your workouts
and keep them as you would a hair or nail
- Be active while doing other things. For
example, lift weights or march in place while
watching TV. Try walking around your home while
talking on a cordless telephone.
“I’m going to ruin my
If you avoid physical activity because you do not
want to ruin your hairstyle, try:
- a natural hairstyle
- a style that can be wrapped or pulled
- a short haircut
- braids, twists, or locs
activities can cause salt buildup in your hair.
To remove salt, shampoo with a mild, pH-balanced
product at least once a week.
There are lots of ways to be physically active
that are free or low-cost. You can:
- Find a local park or school track where you
can walk or run.
- Walk around a mall.
- Work out with videos in your home—you
can find workout videos at bookstores or your
- Join a recreation center or fitness center
at work or near your home.
- Walk your dog. If you do not have a dog,
pretend that you do.
TIP: Most people do not
need to see their health care provider before
getting physically active. If you have chronic
health problems such as heart disease, high blood
pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, or obesity,
talk to your health care provider before starting
a vigorous physical activity
program. You do not need to talk to your provider
before you start a less strenuous activity like
“Physical activity is a
It can be fun! Try to:
- Do things you enjoy, like walking, dancing,
swimming, or playing sports.
- Walk or take an exercise class with a
friend or a group. This way, you can cheer each
other on, have company, and feel safer when you
- Be active with your kids—ride bikes,
jump doubledutch, toss a softball, play tag, or
do jumping jacks. Physical activity is
good for them too.
- Use your daily workouts as time-outs just
It may be hard to eat healthy if you do not
have time to cook or your kids want fast
food. Try these tips to eat better, save
time, and stretch your food budget.
Help Your Family Eat Well
Here are some ways that you and your family
can eat better:
- Eat breakfast every day. Try a whole-grain
cereal like raisin bran with fat-free or
low-fat milk, or whole-wheat toast spread with
jam. Enjoy some fruit with your breakfast
- Teach kids that healthy foods taste good.
Make macaroni and cheese with fat-free milk and
low-fat cheese. Try a peanut butter (spread
thin) and jam or preserves sandwich instead of
a burger and fries.
- Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt,
and cheese instead of full-fat dairy
- Choose whole-grain foods like whole-wheat
bread, oatmeal, brown rice, or whole-wheat
pasta more often than refined-grain foods, like
white bread, white rice, and white pasta.
- Snack on fruits and vegetables. Keep a bowl
of fruit on the table, bags of mini carrots in
the refrigerator, and boxes of raisins in the
- Do not keep a lot of sweets like cookies,
candy, or soda in the house. Too many sweets
can crowd out healthier foods.
TIP: If you cannot
digest lactose (the sugar found in milk), try
fat-free or low-fat lactose-reduced milk. Or try
fat-free or low-fat yogurt or hard cheeses like
cheddar, which may be easier to digest than milk.
You can also get calcium from calcium-fortified
juices, soy-based beverages, and cereals. Eating
dark leafy vegetables like collard greens and
kale, and canned fish with soft bones like
salmon, can also help you meet your body’s
Save Time and Money When You
You do not have to spend a lot of time in the
kitchen or a lot of money to eat well.
- Buy foods that are easy to prepare, like
pasta and tomato sauce, rice and beans, or
canned tuna packed in water.
- Plan ahead and cook enough food to have
leftovers. Casseroles, meat loaf, and whole
cooked chicken can feed your family for several
days. (Be sure to freeze or refrigerate
leftovers right away to keep them safe to
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in
season. Buy only as much as you will use, so
they will not go bad.
- Buy frozen or canned vegetables (no salt
added) and canned fruit packed in juice. They
are just as good for you as fresh produce, and
will not go bad.
- Try canned beans like kidney, butter,
pinto, or black beans. They are loaded with
protein, cost less than meat, and make quick
and easy additions to your meals.
- If your local store does not have the foods
you want, or the prices are too high, go to
another store or your local farmers market.
Share a ride or the cost of a taxi with
- Involve your friends by having days of
cooking and sharing healthy meals together. Cut
the cost of the meals by buying the ingredients
TIP: Keep a food
diary. Writing down what you eat, when you
eat, and how you feel when you eat can help you
understand your eating habits. You may be able to
see ways to make your eating habits healthier.
You can also use your diary to plan weekly menus,
make shopping lists, and keep track of recipes
you would like to try. For more information
about keeping track of food portions, read
WIN’s brochure Just Enough for You:
About Food Portions.
Food labels may help you make healthy food
choices.* But they can be confusing. Here are
some quick tips for reading food labels:
Check Serving Size and
Calories. All the information on a food
label is based on the serving size. Be
careful—one serving may be much smaller
than you think. If you double the servings you
eat, you double the calories and nutrients,
including the percent Daily Values (DVs).
Percent DV: This tells you if
a food is high or low in nutrients. Foods that
have more than 20-percent DV of a nutrient are
high. Foods that have 5-percent DV or less are
Saturated Fat: Saturated fat
is not healthy for your heart. Compare labels on
similar foods and try to choose foods that have a
5-percent DV or less for saturated fat. Most of
the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and
monounsaturated. Keep total fat intake between 20
percent to 35 percent of calories.
Fat: Trans fat is not
healthy for your heart. When reading food labels,
add together the grams of trans fat and
saturated fat, and choose foods with the lowest
Cholesterol: Too much
cholesterol is not healthy for your heart. Keep
your intake of saturated fat, trans fat,
and cholesterol as low as possible.
Sodium (Salt): Salt contains
sodium. Research shows that eating less than
2,300 milligrams of sodium about (1 teaspoon of
salt) per day may reduce the risk of high blood
TIP: Many food labels
say “low fat,” “reduced
fat,” or “light.” That does not
always mean the food is low in calories.
Remember, fat-free does not mean calorie-free,
and calories do count!
Fiber: Choose foods that are
rich in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and
Sugar: Try to choose foods
with little or no added sugar (like low-sugar
Calcium: Choose foods that
are high in calcium. Foods that are high in
calcium have at least 20-percent DV.
For information about the 2005 Dietary
Guidelines for Americans, see www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.
* For more information on reading nutrition
labels, visit www.cfsan.fda.gov.
In real life, you cannot always cook your
meals or eat at the table. Here are some ways to
make healthy choices when you are on the go:
- Choose a salad or a grilled chicken
sandwich (not fried) instead of a burger at
fast food restaurants.
- If you really want a burger, make it a
small one without sauce. Skip the fries or
share them with a friend.
- Take healthy snacks with you to work. Try
graham crackers, pretzels, baby carrots, or a
small amount of raisins or nuts (but remember
that nuts and raisins are high in
- Balance your meals throughout the day. If
you have a high-fat or high-calorie breakfast
or lunch, make sure you eat a low-fat dinner.
If you know you will be having a higher fat
dinner, make lower fat choices earlier in the
TIP: Fried foods,
high-fat foods, and take-out foods can be part of
a balanced eating plan, but make sure you do not
eat them every day and only eat small
Many people think that bigger is better. We
are so used to value-sized portions in
restaurants that it is easy to eat more than our
bodies need. Eating smaller portions will help
you cut down on calories and fat (and might save
you money too). Here is a 1,600-calorie per day
sample menu with sensible servings:*
* Adapted from National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Institute (NHLBI) sample menus.
½ cup cooked oatmeal
1 English muffin with 1 tablespoon low-fat cream
1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk
¾ cup orange juice
2 ounces baked chicken without skin (a little
smaller than a deck of cards)
Lettuce, tomato, and cucumber salad with 2
teaspoons oil and vinegar dressing
½ cup white rice seasoned with ½
teaspoon tub or liquid margarine
1 small whole-wheat roll with 1 teaspoon
3 ounces lean roast beef (about the size of a
deck of cards) with 1 tablespoon beef gravy
½ cup turnip greens seasoned with ½
1 small baked sweet potato with ½ teaspoon
1 slice cornbread
¼ honeydew melon
2½ cups low-fat microwave popcorn
1½ teaspoons margarine
TIP: Use margarine
instead of butter. Choose a soft margarine that
has no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per
tablespoon and that lists “liquid vegetable
oil” as the first ingredient on the
ingredient list. (American Heart
Set goals. Move at your own pace. Celebrate
your successes. Allow for setbacks. Let your
family and friends help you. And keep
trying—you can do it!
Heart-Healthy Home Cooking African
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Publication
No. 97–3792, 1997. This pamphlet tells how
to prepare your favorite African-American dishes
in ways that will help protect you and your
family from heart disease and stroke, and
includes 20 tested recipes. Available from NHLBI
for $3; call (301) 592–8573 or (240)
Down Home Healthy Cookin’.
National Cancer Institute (NCI), reprinted 2000.
This pamphlet features 12 recipes for traditional
African-American foods modified to be low in fat
and high in fiber—but still tasty.
Available free from the NCI; call
The following WIN productions offer more
information on weight-loss programs, healthy
eating, and physical activity:
Celebrate the Beauty of Youth is a
tip sheet on moving more and eating healthy.
Walking…A Step in the Right
Direction is a brochure on the benefits of
walking that includes suggestions on how you can
safely start your own walking program. March
Just Enough for You: About Food
Portions is a brochure that shows you how to
use serving sizes to help you eat just enough for
you. August 2006.
National Diabetes Education
Publications from NDEP provide information about
diabetes and obesity prevention and control.
NDEP’s publications catalog also offers
resources specifically for African Americans.
Phone: (301) 496–3583
This interactive website from the U.S. Department
of Agriculture has detailed information about
healthy eating and physical activity and allows
you to create a personalized eating and activity
plan. The website has information and tips
for both adults and children.
*Participants in clinical trials play a more
active role in their own health care, gain access
to new research treatments before they are widely
available, and help others by contributing to
Weight-control Information Network
1 WIN Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3665
Phone: (202) 828–1025
Fax: (202) 828–1028
The Weight-control Information Network (WIN)
is a national information service of the National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of
Health, which is the Federal Government’s
lead agency responsible for biomedical research
on nutrition and obesity. Authorized by Congress
(Public Law 103–43), WIN provides the
general public, health professionals, the media,
and Congress with up-to-date, science-based
health information on weight control, obesity,
physical activity, and related nutritional
Publications produced by WIN are reviewed by
both NIDDK scientists and outside experts. This
publication was also reviewed by Steven Blair,
P.E.D., Professor, Department of Exercise
Science, Arnold School of Public Health,
University of South Carolina, and Ellen Feiler,
M.S., Health Education Director, Broward County
Health Department, Florida Department of
This publication is not copyrighted. WIN
encourages users of this brochure to
duplicate and distribute as many copies as
NIH Publication No. 08–4926