A new report finds that less than 7 percent of adults in the United States practice all five of the healthy behaviors recommended by public health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society.

So, what are those behaviors?

» Exercising regularly (150 minutes per week)

» Eating a healthy diet

» Maintaining a healthy weight

» Avoiding smoking

» Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption

Researchers looked at data from a national survey of more than 26,000 adults ages 20 to 79. Only 1 in 5 surveyed adopt four or more of the healthy behaviors, and nearly half participate in fewer than three. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in April 2020.

Why do these behaviors matter? The better your habits (and the more of these five habits you accomplish), the more your quality of life can be improved and the less likely you will be to develop a chronic disease.

Just what does a healthy diet entail? Let’s go back to the Agriculture Department’s MyPlate. It’s an easy-to-understand plan that doesn’t require counting calories. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a fourth of your plate with lean protein (it can be from plants or lean meats) and a fourth of your plate with whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, teff, whole-wheat pasta or bread). Have a side of low-fat dairy.

That plan can be more challenging at breakfast, but think of a whole-grain, high-protein cereal with skim milk and berries, or whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana. Add a glass of low-sodium vegetable juice for a balanced meal. You could also add spinach, onions and mushrooms to an omelet or scrambled eggs with a side of fruit or a smoothie with protein powder and spinach or kale.

The bottom line? It would be good for all of us to add as many of these healthy habits to our daily routines as we can.


Q: What are sugar alcohols?

A: Sugar alcohols are used to add sweetness and bulk to certain foods. They are often used as a sugar substitute because they contain fewer calories than regular sugar. They are often added to sugar-free candy, cookies and gum. And they are useful, in that respect, for someone trying to reduce their sugar or calorie intake.

However, too much of them can cause diarrhea. Moderation is always the key.

Mediterranean Chicken Bowls

If you’ve got an air fryer, here’s a great recipe to try. The air fryer lowers the fat in food while still making it crispy. This recipe for Mediterranean Chicken Bowls is from Good Housekeeping.


» 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½-inch pieces

» 1 tablespoon olive oil

» 1 teaspoon dried oregano

» 1 teaspoon ground sumac

» Salt and pepper

» 1 pint cherry tomatoes

» 1 medium onion, roughly chopped

» 1 cup couscous

» 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

» 1 tablespoon lemon juice

» Lemon wedges, for serving

» ¼ cup fresh dill, divided

» Crumbled feta cheese, for serving


In large bowl, toss chicken with oil, oregano, sumac and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and onion, and toss to combine. Arrange in even layer in air fryer basket, and air fry at 400 degrees, shaking basket occasionally, until chicken is golden-brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss couscous with lemon zest, and prepare according to package directions. Fluff with fork, and fold in lemon juice and 2 tablespoons dill. Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous, spooning any juices from the air fryer over top. Sprinkle with remaining dill and feta, and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.


Serves 2-4

Per serving: 475 calories; 43 grams protein; 53 grams carbohydrates; 9.5 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated); 5 grams fiber; 425 milligrams sodium

— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois. Contact her at charfarg@aol.com, or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois, and the current president of the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at charfarg@aol.com, and follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd. The opinions expressed are her own.