U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Improving the health and well-being of America.
Smallstep Adult and Teen Site

Take Small Steps Today!

There are many ways that you can take small steps toward better health, and you can to it - today! We provide over 100 tips below to take small steps to a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. Steps that are simple and free! Choose from any one of these small steps, or create your own. Get your friends and family involved in coming up with fun ways to take small steps each and every day. Remember, for adults, getting physically active at least five times a week, for thirty minutes or more, will help lead you toward a happier and healthier lifestyle. For kids, being active an hour a day is a small step towards good health! Eat a healthy diet, avoid harmful substances, and integrate small steps into your life – and soon you will see the positive effects taking place – one day at a time.


(# 2) Use fat free milk over whole milk.
(# 5) Drink water before a meal.
(# 18) Drink diet soda.
(# 66) Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all.
(# 140) Order your latte or hot chocolate with fat-free (skim) milk.
(# 160) Drink water or club soda—zest it up with a wedge of lemon or lime.


(# 23) Don't eat late at night.
(# 37) Don't skip meals.
(# 79) Don't skip breakfast.
(# 88) Don't take seconds.


(# 6) Eat leaner red meat & poultry.
(# 7) Eat half your dessert.
(# 21) Eat off smaller plates.
(# 33) More carrots, less cake.
(# 38) Eat more celery sticks.
(# 43) Try your burger with just lettuce, tomato, and onion.
(# 69) Share an entree with a friend.
(# 71) Before going back for seconds, wait 10 or 10 minutes. You might not want seconds after all.
(# 83) Snack on fruits and vegetables.
(# 85) When eating out, choose a small or medium portion.
(# 86) If main dishes are too big, choose an appetizer or a side dish instead.
(# 87) Ask for salad dressing "on the side".
(# 90) Try a green salad instead of fries.
(# 91) Before going back for seconds, wait 10 or 15 minutes. You might not want seconds after all.
(# 93) Eat sweet foods in small amounts.
(# 108) Every time you eat a meal, sit down, chew slowly, and pay attention to flavors and textures.
(# 109) Try a new fruit or vegetable (ever had jicama, plantain, bok, choy, starfruit, or papaya?)
(# 120) The smaller your plate, the smaller your portion. Eat your meals at home on a smaller plate.
(# 121) Eat before grocery shopping.
(# 124) Top your favorite cereal with apples or bananas.
(# 128) Try fast food options such as smaller burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches or salads with low-calorie dressings, cups or bags of fresh fruit, low-fat milk, 100% fruit juice and bottled water.
(# 129) At sandwich shops, ask for leaner cuts and smaller amounts of roast beef, turkey, or ham; extra lettuce and tomato; and whole-wheat, oatmeal, or rye bread.
(# 130) Make half your grains whole. Make your sandwich on 100% whole wheat or oatmeal bread or snack on whole grain crackers.
(# 131) Get a whole grain head start with oatmeal or whole grain cereal in the morning.
(# 134) Swap your usual sandwich side for crunchy broccoli florettes or red pepper strips.
(# 136) Focus on fruits. Bag some fruit for your morning commute. Toss in an apple to munch with lunch and some raisins to satisfy you at snack time.
(# 137) Never be fruitless! Stock up on peaches, pears, and apricots canned in fruit juice or frozen so they’re always on hand.
(# 139) Snack on low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Try it as a dip for fruits and veggies and a topper for baked potatoes.
(# 141) Go lean with protein. Eat lean or low fat meat, chicken, turkey, and fish. Try dry beans and peas as your lean protein.
(# 144) Enjoy pinto or kidney beans on a salad or a hearty split pea or lentil soup for extra protein and fiber.
(# 145) Toss salad with salad olive oil and flavored vinegar.
(# 146) Try thin slices of avocado on a sandwich or sprinkle some nuts on a salad.
(# 148) Don’t sugarcoat it. Choose foods and beverages that do not have sugar and caloric sweeteners as one of the first ingredients.
(# 154) Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator for snacks. Carrot and celery sticks are traditional, but consider broccoli, cucumbers, or pepper strips.
(# 161) Choose low - or reduced sodium, or no-salt-added versions of foods and condiments when available.
(# 167) Ask for more vegetable toppings (like mushrooms, peppers, and onions) and less cheese on your pizza.
(# 168) Add lettuce, tomato, onion, and cucumber to sandwiches.
(# 169) Try eating at least 2 vegetables with dinner.


(# 11) Avoid food portions larger than your fist.
(# 12) Mow lawn with push mower.
(# 13) Increase the fiber in your diet.
(# 17) Join an exercise group.
(# 20) Do yard work.
(# 24) Skip seconds.
(# 25) Work around the house.
(# 26) Skip buffets.
(# 29) Take dog to the park.
(# 30) Ask your doctor about taking a multi-vitamin.
(# 32) Use vegetable oils over solid fats.
(# 34) Fetch the newspaper yourself.
(# 35) Sit up straight at work.
(# 36) Wash the car by hand.
(# 39) Run when running errands.
(# 40) Pace the sidelines at kids' athletic games.
(# 41) Take wheels off luggage.
(# 48) Keep to a regular eating schedule.
(# 51) Perform gardening or home repair activities.
(# 52) Avoid laborsaving devices.
(# 55) Dance to music.
(# 61) Take the long way to the water cooler.
(# 64) Reward and acknowledge your efforts.
(# 65) Choose fruit for dessert.
(# 66) Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all.
(# 67) Take stairs instead of the escalator.
(# 68) Conduct an inventory of your meal/snack and physical activity patterns.
(# 72) Choose a checkout line without a candy display.
(# 73) Make a grocery list before you shop.
(# 74) Buy 100% fruit juices over soda and sugary drinks.
(# 76) Flavor foods with herbs, spices, and other low fat seasonings.
(# 77) Remove skin from poultry before cooking to lower fat content.
(# 78) Eat before you get too hungry.
(# 80) Stop eating when you are full.
(# 82) Choose smaller sized snacks.
(# 84) Include several servings of whole grain food daily.
(# 96) Cut back on added fats or oils in cooking or spreads.
(# 99) Carry your groceries instead of pushing a cart.
(# 100) Use a snow shovel instead of a snow blower.
(# 101) Cut high-calorie foods like cheese and chocolate into smaller pieces and only eat a few pieces.
(# 102) Use nonfat or low-fat sour cream, mayo, sauces, dressings, and other condiments.
(# 103) Replace sugar sweetened beverages with water and add a twist of lemon or lime.
(# 104) Replace high-saturated fat/high calorie seasonings with herbs grown in a small herb garden in your kitchen window.
(# 105) Refrigerate prepared soups before you eat them. As the soup cools, the fat will rise to the top. Skim it off the surface for reduced fat content.
(# 106) When eating out, ask your server to put half your entrée in a to-go bag.
(# 107) Substitute vegetables for other ingredients in your sandwich.
(# 111) Instead of eating out, bring a healthy, low calorie lunch to work.
(# 112) Ask your sweetie to bring you fruit or flowers instead of chocolate.
(# 113) Speak up for the salad bar when your coworkers are picking a restaurant for lunch, and remember calories count, so pay attention to how much and what you eat.
(# 115) Walk briskly through the mall and shop 'til you drop ... pounds.
(# 116) Clean your closet and donate clothes that are too big.
(# 117) Take your body measurements to gauge progress.
(# 122) Portion out your snack on a plate, not from the bag, to stay aware of how much you’re eating.
(# 123) Buy or portion out treats and snacks in small bags or packages.
(# 125) Store especially tempting foods, like cookies, chips, or ice cream, out of immediate eyesight, like on a high shelf or at the back of a freezer.
(# 126) When buying in bulk, store the excess in a place that’s not convenient to get to, such as a high cabinet or at the back of a pantry.
(# 127) When you order fast food, take it home and put it on a plate. If you’re surprised at how full the plate looks, order smaller sizes next time.
(# 149) Be realistic. Make small changes over time in what you eat and the level of physical activity you do. Small steps often work better than giant leaps.
(# 150) Be adventurous. Expand your tastes to enjoy a variety of foods and physical activities.
(# 151) Be flexible. You don’t need to worry about just one meal or one day. Find your right balance between what you eat and the physical activity you do over several days.
(# 152) Be sensible. Enjoy the foods you eat, just don’t overdo it.


(# 3) Do sit-ups in front of the TV.
(# 10) Skate to work instead of driving.
(# 28) Bicycle to the store instead of driving.
(# 42) Choose an activity that fits into your daily life.
(# 44) Ask a friend to exercise with you.
(# 45) Make time in your day for physical activity.
(# 46) Exercise with a video if the weather is bad.
(# 47) Bike to the barbershop or beauty salon instead of driving.
(# 49) If you find it difficult to be active after work, try it before work.
(# 50) Take a walk or do desk exercises instead of a cigarette or coffee break.
(# 53) Take small trips on foot to get your body moving.
(# 54) Play with your kids 30 minutes a day.
(# 56) Keep a pair of comfortable walking or running shoes in your car and office.
(# 59) Choose activities you enjoy & you'll be more likely to stick with them.
(# 60) Stretch before bed to give you more energy when you wake.
(# 62) Explore new physical activities.
(# 63) Vary your activities, for interest and to broaden the range of benefits.
(# 75) Stay active in winter. Play with your kids.
(# 118) Buy a set of hand weights and play a round of Simon Says with your kids - you do it with the weights, they do without.
(# 119) Swim with your kids.
(# 170) You can break up your physical activity into 10-15 minute sessions throughout the day—it’s the daily total that matters. Aim for at least 30 minutes for adults, 60 minutes for children.
(# 171) Be active--Walk the dog, don't just watch the dog walk.


(# 27) Grill, steam or bake instead of frying.
(# 70) Grill fruits or vegetables.
(# 91) Bake or broil fish.
(# 110) Make up a batch of brownies with applesauce instead of oil or shortening.
(# 132) Use whole grains in mixed dishes such as barley in vegetable soups or stews, bulgur in casseroles, or brown rice in stir fries.
(# 133) Vary your veggies – it’s easy to go dark green. Add frozen chopped spinach, collard greens, or turnip greens into a pot of soup.
(# 135) Microwave a sweet potato for a delicious side dish.
(# 138) Get your calcium-rich foods. Use fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water when you make oatmeal, hot cereals, or condensed cream soups, such as cream of tomato.
(# 142) Trim visible fat from meat and remove skin from poultry.
(# 143) Broil, grill, roast, or poach meal, poultry or fish instead of frying.
(# 147) Know your fats. Use some vegetable oil instead of butter for cooking and baking.
(# 155) Plan some meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a stir-fry or soup. Then add other foods to complement it.
(# 156) Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking in the microwave.
(# 157) Grill vegetable kabobs as part of a barbecue meal. Try tomatoes, green peppers, and onions.
(# 159) Have fruit for dessert, such as baked apples, pears, or a fruit salad.
(# 162) Lower the sodium. Rinse canned foods, such as tuna and canned beans, to remove some of the sodium.
(# 163) Use spices instead of salt. Start by cutting salt in half.
(# 165) Add vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms or tomatoes to your egg or egg white omelet.
(# 166) Look for fruit without added sugar or syrups and vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces.


(# 1) Walk to work.
(# 4) Walk during lunch hour.
(# 8) Walk instead of driving whenever you can.
(# 9) Take family walk after dinner.
(# 14) Walk to your place of worship instead of driving.
(# 15) Walk kids to school.
(# 16) Get a dog and walk it.
(# 19) Replace Sunday drive with Sunday walk.
(# 22) Get off a stop early & walk.
(# 31) Go for a half-hour walk instead of watching TV.
(# 57) Make a Saturday morning walk a group habit.
(# 58) Walk briskly in the mall.
(# 89) Park farther from destination and walk.
(# 92) Walk instead of sitting around.
(# 94) Take your dog on longer walks.
(# 95) Drink lots of water.
(# 97) Walk the beach instead of sunbathing.
(# 98) Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling them.
(# 114) When walking, go up the hills instead of around them.


(# 43) Try your burger with just lettuce, tomato, and onion.
(# 81) Try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
(# 90) Try a green salad instead of fries.
(# 109) Try a new fruit or vegetable (ever had jicama, plantain, bok choy, starfruit or papaya?)
(# 128) Try fast food options such as smaller burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches or salads with low-calorie dressings, cups or bags of fresh fruit, low-fat milk, 100% fruit juice and bottled water.
(# 146) Try thin slices of avocado on a sandwich or sprinkle some nuts on a salad.
(# 153) Try a main dish salad for lunch. Go light on the salad dressing.
(# 169) Try eating at least 2 vegetables with dinner.
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