Evolution of a Healthy Lifestyle: Small Changes – Healthy Habits – Lasting Behaviors

Elizabeth Gollub, May, Sandra

Elizabeth Gollub and Sandra May

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t just happen. It requires effort, attention and time to evolve and take root. There is a new emphasis within the LSU AgCenter School of Nutrition and Food Sciences on the value and effectiveness of small changes and healthy habits as a way to realize and normalize healthy eating and physical activity. Extension nutrition agents are working within Louisiana communities to provide education and skills to Louisianians and to guide their transition to a healthy lifestyle.

What is a healthy lifestyle?

In general, a healthy lifestyle is a way of living that promotes a sense of well-being, reduces risk of preventable diseases and increases life expectancy. A healthy diet and ample physical activity are two of five areas — along with healthy body weight, not smoking and moderate alcohol consumption — that have the greatest impact on health and longevity.

Why is this program needed?

More than 35% of Louisiana’s adults are obese and another 34% are overweight. In fact, most American adults are overweight such that being overweight seems normal. Obesity and overweight are major risk factors for diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases and conditions. Being obese or overweight also affects quality of life and well-being. There is a growing interest in developing healthier eating and physical activity habits.

Flavors of Health

Flavors of Health is an LSU AgCenter community nutrition and health education program led by a core group of 10 nutrition agents, most of whom have received Health Coach Certification training to prepare for this program. These agents provide expertise on a wide variety of topics that support healthy eating, including how to set realistic goals, make small changes in daily behaviors, transform healthy behaviors into healthy habits and select healthful foods. Flavors of Health teaches basic cooking skills and strategies to increase exercise and physical activity. It also provides information on healthful eating patterns and on nutrients, processed foods, weight management, chronic disease prevention and other food and nutrition issues.

Flavors of Health is launching a new Small Changes/Healthy Habits curriculum designed to help Louisiana adults establish healthier eating and physical activity habits through small changes in their food and fitness-related behaviors. Beginning in fall 2019, all 10 agents will offer this practical, four-session, hands-on curriculum in their parishes.

Flavors of Health and the new Small Changes/Healthy Habits curriculum will be good for Louisiana. After all, healthy eating and physical activity habits are cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. People with a healthier lifestyle are healthier people. Healthier people foster healthier communities. It takes time to establish new habits. It begins with small changes. That’s the evolution of a healthy lifestyle.

Elizabeth Gollub is an assistant professor in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, and Sandra May is an extension associate and curriculum coordinator.

Acknowledgements Creating the Small Changes/Health Habits curriculum has been a team effort that includes Abigail McAlister, nutrition agent in the Northwest Region; Becky Gautreaux and Mandy Armentor, nutrition agents in the Southwest Region; and Quincy Vidrine, nutrition agent in the Central Region, Elizabeth Gollub and Sandra May.

(This article appears in the fall 2019 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

1/10/2020 8:30:50 PM
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