UNITED STATES—As Americans if there is one thing that we’re all guilty of its not taking full accountability for our health. There are things that we can control, and some things that our out of our hands and we have to seek medical attention for. On the other end of the spectrum, there are indeed things we can do to improve our overall health and that all begins with what we eat, how much of it we eat and the big one: exercise.

I really do not like to utilize the word diet because in my personal opinion a lot of the time it sounds like something temporary and once it’s over we go back to bad eating habits that put our health at risk in the first place. I think portion size is a big issue for many of us. When we eat, we really want to feel satiated and for a lot of meals we consume that is not the case. You’ve eaten, but for reasons that you sometimes cannot fathom, you’re still hungry or the hunger hasn’t 100 percent ceded.

Why is that? Delayed eating can lead to overeating and on top of that it sometimes leads you to eating something that craves your hunger, but doesn’t actually make you full to being with. I do believe veggies are a strong substitute for curbing most hunger, but the biggest issue so many of us face is that we think they lack flavor. So that means you have to take steps to elevate the flavor profile on some of your favorite veggies or not so favorite veggies.

A salad is always a great choice, but when you add so many things to that salad like a ton of bread, dressings and so much more, the salad that seemed healthy in the beginning isn’t so healthy any more. For most of us when it comes to lunch or dinner, we have a three to four course meal. I’d argue a three course meal is more popular: a protein, a veggie and a starch. The problem with the three course meal is that we tend to overindulge in portion sizes for the protein and the starch and forget about the veggie.

That is bad because in most situations the veggie is like a free food. You should put more of those on the plate and reduce your consumption of protein and that starch because those are not good for the body in large doses. This might sound crazy, but listen to me: veggies are good and you can actually get full off eating them. While a potato is a veggie they are also high in carbs and have a high glycemic index, which is not good for the body. So if you just have to have a potato try one that is a bit healthier like the sweet potato.

Bread and pasta are the worse, and even I have to admit when I eat pasta I like a reasonable portion. If you’ve ever spoken to a dietician or you discover the precise portion size you should have for a bowl of pasta you might be stunned, but there is a reason for it. It’s loaded with carbohydrates and many Americans forget carbs turn into sugar, which turn into fat if they are not burned.

This brings us to the conversation of exercise. The winter months are far beyond us, so there really is no excuse at this point to not get outdoors and indulge in some physical activity. It’s better to be moving than to not be moving. So many of us have become accustomed to sitting on the couch with the remote in one hand and a bag of chips in the other hand; this needs to stop.

So many people have an elliptical, bicycle or treadmill in the home. Why not jump on that device for 30 minutes to 1 hour to watch your favorite show. Look at things this way, you get to be entertained, while at the same time burn some calories along the way. You’ll be so focused on your TV show you won’t even realize that you easily burned 200-300 calories or more.

Remember calorie intake versus what you burn is key to losing weight. For most of us the expected daily calorie intake is 2000, but many of us far exceed that on a daily basis. I mean one stop at your favorite fast-food chain can easily lead you to consume over 2000 calories and that is just one meal during the day, one that probably leaves you hungrier then you were before.

Written By Kelsey Thomas