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Answers from the BJC Experts

Ask the BJC Expert allows you to get the answers you need about a variety of health, medicine and exercise issues to help you live a more healthy life.

Please browse the most recent questions below or use the search the questions feature to see if the answer to your question is already given. If not, please submit a new question for our experts.

This is my second year of not smoking, and I have gained a lot of weight. I am a 38-year-old divorced, full-time worker and full-time student. I don’t take the time to cook; I don’t like to cook, so I make things simple: salads, sandwiches, popcorn and of course lots of sweets. I’m not a big vegetable fan or a meat-eater. I have no self-discipline. What do you suggest?

Congratulations on quitting smoking! That's a challenge. Now that you have taken care of one aspect of your health, maybe you can begin working on your eating habits.

Look at your current lifestyle, and see what small changes you can begin implementing. Try to consume more whole grains, fruits and the vegetables you like. If sweets are a challenge, don't have them around the house to tempt you. Set up goals such as only eating something sweet on Friday, for example: I will eat ½ cup of ice cream on Fridays. Be sure you are eating regular meals and snacks; don't skip meals. Try frozen meals like Healthy Choice or Smart Ones. Choose lower fat snacks like pretzels. Popcorn is fine as long as it's not loaded with butter.

Try to work in some exercise. Park further out in the parking lot, take a walk during lunch or before the start of your day. That could be another goal. For example: I will walk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m. for 15 minutes. Setting goals, and changing habits and behaviors is the first step to improving your eating habits. Also, think about keeping a food log; it can help you stay on track and perhaps identify some instances of mindless eating.

Nutrition counseling services are available at:

BJC dietitians also can be located by calling Help For Your Health at 314.747.7234.

Or Weight Watchers may work for you. Go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Choose My Plate website for tips on eating healthier and incorporating activity.

Remember you don't have to do everything all at once. Good luck, and let me know if I can be of further help or if you need a referral for a registered dietitian.

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