March is National Nutrition Month so here are some ideas to help you eat healthier! Reaching and maintaining a healthier weight contributes to your overall health and well-being. Losing even a few pounds or preventing further weight gain has health benefits.
Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated – simply begin to shift to healthier food and beverage choices. These guidelines from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans can help get you started.
Emphasize fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products.
Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
Make sure your diet is low in saturated fats, trans- fats, salt (sodium) and added sugars.
Make your calories count. Try not to think of your foods as “good” or “bad.” The majority of your food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients, and lower in calories. Many of our foods take away our hunger but they do not nourish our heart, brain, kidneys, and joints like food should. When you learn to make smart food choices you will be healthier, lose a few pounds and have more energy! Would anyone complain about feeling better?
Focus on variety. You want to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups to get the nutrients your body needs. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen or canned. Remember it is a good idea to eat the colors of the rainbow – bright colored foods have good vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Examples are carrots, apples, oranges, spinach, eggplant and broccoli. Smart protein choices are fish, beans, and peas. About 3 to 5 ounces of whole-grain cereal, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day is appropriate.
Know your fats. It is a good idea to learn how to read your food labels. You want foods that are low in saturated fat and trans- fats to avoid heart issues. So when you read the food label you do not want to see partially hydrogenated oil on the label because that usually means trans-fat. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils are a healthier choice.
Some other pointers that will help you change your lifestyle are to know when you are full! Stop before you are stuffed and wait 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to tell you that you have had enough. A secret to help with that is to eat slowly! Fiber will help you feel full longer, helps your gut and lowers your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Choose a place in the home to sit down and eat, it is not good to eat standing up. If you are a multitasker and always doing something else while you eat, you are not aware of how much you eat. So if you are eating pretzels or chips, put your allowed portion in a bowl and do not eat out of the bag because it is hard to control the amount you eat then.
Know that food is not just calories, it is information and it talks to your DNA and tells it what to do. The most powerful tool to change your health, environment and your entire world is your fork! Think about being health-conscious and not self-conscious!
If you want more information, you can go to websites such as ChooseMyPlate.gov or Eatright.org. If anyone is interested in getting support and more education to control weight and eat healthy you may want to attend Fayette Fat Fighters at the Fayette County Health Department. This is a free program that meets on Monday evenings. Weigh- ins are from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. There is an educational, motivational class from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. A variety of activities are involved such as playing games, and having taste test. If you have questions please call Jeannie Bihl R.N. at 335-5910.