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Dr. Gurley: Five Things to Do For Your Health in January

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Health is the catchword for January. Articles and ads exhort us to live healthier, make changes, do more. Here are five simple things you can do this month to launch your healthier year:

1) Declutter your kitchen - January 3rd is Fruitcake Toss Day, and January is Oatmeal Month. Clearly these are a sign that January is a great time to discover what’s lurking in your cabinets. Imagine your kitchen-clear-out is a game of real-life Survivor. Vote off your island cabinets anything you don’t want to see in your arteries or clinging to your waist. Especially toss all the sodas (even diet!) and juices, which contribute, on average, many pounds per year of calories without even giving you the benefit of feeling full.

Oatmeal, however, is a keeper - whole grains have been shown to give you a large number of benefits - blunting insulin spikes, protecting against type II diabetes (especially in African-American women, where the effects are especially beneficial) and suppressing appetite cravings. Stock up on raw whole-grain goodness and sneak it into as many meals as you can - but especially at breakfast (which studies show is a crucial part of sustained weight-loss success stories).

Here’s a Well Worth It Tip: As a reward for your kitchen de-cluttering efforts, consider investing in a new set of smaller dinner plates. Studies have shown that people eat what’s served to them, and feel the same satiety even when the size of the plate is much smaller - which has been shown to result in as much as a 15 pound effortless weight-loss over a year!

2) Give life - January is Blood-Donor month. Here’s a wonderful article from the BBC, titled, In The Bag, about the experiences of a frequent donor. Donating blood gives many benefits - not just to the recipient, but also the giver. Tantalizing science hints that regularly giving blood may lower your risk of heart attacks, particularly if you’re a man or a post-menopausal woman.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.