Going on a diet is not always the best way to improve your health. While strict diets may help you lose weight at first, following these restrictions forever is not usually sustainable. The best way to make positive and long-term changes to your health is to establish small and healthy habits as part of your daily routine.

Habits are small actions you perform every day. Brushing your teeth is a daily habit that most of us perform without even thinking about it. If you are hoping to lose weight, improve your blood sugar numbers or lower your cholesterol levels, start building healthy habits into your day to achieve long-term success.

Healthy habit ideas

  • Drink a glass of water when you wake up in the morning.
  • Go for a short walk around your neighborhood after you eat dinner.
  • Include a piece of fruit with your daily breakfast.
  • Enjoy your meals at the kitchen table instead of the couch or living room.
  • Eat at least two types of vegetables per day (and increase from there).
  • Stand up and stretch during TV commercials.
  • Use smaller plates to help with portion control.
  • Eat a meal or snack before going to the grocery store.
  • Replace one can of soda with one glass of water each day and build from there.
  • Take your dog for a walk every day.


VA has many resources to help you create and maintain healthy habits. Do you need healthy recipe ideas to help you eat more vegetables? Download the Yummy Benefits Cookbook for delicious recipes created by VA registered dietitians.

VA also has a Healthy Teaching Kitchen YouTube Channel where you can learn how to make healthy recipes and gain valuable tips for cooking at home.

Your journey toward better health starts at home with small changes to your eating and lifestyle. Choose at least one realistic habit you will start working toward today. Registered dietitians can help you create and maintain healthy habits for long-term success. Contact your local VA to speak with a registered dietitian for additional support and guidance.

Your dietitian or doctor may recommend a short-term diet for medical reasons. Please seek guidance from your health care provider.

Maria Zamarripa is a registered dietitian with the Home-Based Primary Care program at the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System. She meets with home-bound Veterans to provide medical nutrition therapy, nutrition counseling and education.

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Published on May. 27, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2 min.

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