By  Caty Millburg


There are many factors contributing to the expanding waistlines of individuals across east Texas.  Some of them are medically related, but most are due to poor lifestyle habits.  East Texas is considered the Stroke Belt because of its high rate of strokes.  And although the area has some of the best medical providers, it is not changing the lifestyle of those in the area.  So what are some things that you can change to improve your overall health and quality of life?
Eat out less.  East Texans are guilty of eating out about 5 times a week.  This is higher than the national average of 3.  There are very few places in the area that a person can get a healthy meal.  Even though many people believe they are getting something healthy when they chose a salad, or subway, many times they aren’t.  Although these options can be good, too many times we are guilty of drenching them in salad dressing our adding an abundance of cheese, bacon, fried chicken, or other culprits.
You’ve heard it before but, watch your portion sizes.  Portion sizes have more than tripled in the U.S. since 1950.  Dinner plates have grown from a normal 7” diameter to 12” diameter.  American’s are eating less vegetables and more carbohydrates.  The United States Department of Agriculture recently came out with a new food guide and can be found at  This website breaks it down for individuals concerning what they should be putting on their plate, and how much is recommended for people of different age and gender.
Get active!  Texans in general are doing poorly when it comes to physical activity.  About 30% of East Texans are physically inactive.  It is recommended that individuals receive at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.  Exercise not only helps control weight, but also promotes other healthy habits and aids against diseases ranging from arthritis to dementia and heart disease.  Find something you enjoy and try to do it every day.  With the temperature never really dropping below 30 degrees, we have no excuse not to get out and about year round.
Set goals.  Whether your goals are to simply get more active, lose weight, avoid weight gain, or feed your family better, make a plan to get that done.  I cannot think of anyone who doesn’t need some change.
Get informed.  Take a proactive role in educating yourself on proper nutrition.  Don’t just expect to find a magic pill or procedure to fix the problem for you.  Take responsibility for your habits.  If you need help deciphering through all of the information, consult an expert.  At BalanceDiet in Longview, we have a well trained staff that is eager to share their knowledge about healthy lifestyle habits.