National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The first National Week campaign was in 1973. Over the years the themes and campaigns have evolved but the focus is still on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. NMM also promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information.
Our guest this week is Diana Pitcher, a licensed and registered dietitian with Department of Health and Environmental Control in Lexington and Newberry. She will approach Newberry readers with a positive message about eating habits and increasing physical activity for better health.
“There is a lot of bad nutrition advice circulating. I would like to inform readers where to find good nutrition. Every year National Nutrition Month is sponsored in March to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing physical habits. The 2013 theme is Eat right your way, every day. This year’s theme emphasizes the advantages of developing a healthful eating plan that incorporates individual food choices and preferences.”
I would like to suggest these proposals how to make good nutrition decisions most days: You can incorporate your favorite foods into a healthy diet. Some popular favorite foods most people love can still fit into any diet.
Pizza — Have 2 slices of pizza with vegetables on it instead of high fat meats like sausage and pepperoni. Have the veggie- lover pizza and a side salad. Have red sauce instead of white sauce, because white sauce has more calories. Have the thin crust pizza in place of stuffed crust to reduce calories and fat.
Desserts — Choose desserts that include fresh fruits and limit heavy sauces for a healthy sweet desert choice. Use reduced fat or fat free products when able. Bake with Splenda or other sugar substitutes instead of sugar. If you have chocolate, aim at dark chocolate as it has more antioxidants and lower fat. Avoid fried desserts.
Movie Snacks — Select the small popcorn without the butter and share it with a friend. Have a diet soda instead of regular or have water. Choose a fat free candy such as gummy bears instead of chocolate covered nuts and raisins.
Fast Foods — Choose lower fat side items, such as baked potato or side salad, instead of fries. Choose single serving sandwiches, instead of double or triple patty, and do not supersize. Choose a medium or small beverage as an alternate of large or choose the diet soda. Leave off mayonnaise and cheese to reduce calories and fat. Several restaurants, including MacDonald’s, has all the nutrition information labeled on the food items so you can make healthier choices.
Salads — Watch the dressing, cheese and bacon bits as these add extra calories and fat. Fast foods in salads are often higher in calories and fat than a single cheeseburger with vegetables. Ask for Italian or other oil based dressings or reduced fat versions of your favorite dressings. If eating in a restaurant, ask for cheese and bacon bits on the side so you can monitor how much you decide to eat.
Energy bars — While the packaging makes them look healthy, they are often loaded with sugar and a high amount of calories. They do have more vitamins and minerals than a candy bar but the calories and sugar outweigh the benefit more from a healthy snack like peanut butter and apples for a boost in the afternoon or after your workout.
Dining Out — Dining out does not have to mean overeating and throwing away your healthy habits and goals. Try adding fruits and vegetables to your meals and remember to look for the words grilled, baked, or steamed to help you stay on track. Also, try to avoid creamy sauces, glazes, and ordering items loaded like baked potatoes and soups.
Cooking at home can be healthy, rewarding, and cost effective. By cooking at home you know what goes into your food and it’s easier to determine appropriate portion sizes. When at home think about your plate size. Use 9-inch plates at home instead of the 12-inch or the larger plates that are used in restaurants.
Portion sizes—Remember when it comes to eating your favorite foods, portion size is everything.
Having a good meal pattern is also an important part of having a healthy diet and healthy lifestyles. Think of every day like a puzzle. If you want everything to fit, then you need to combine higher calorie meals with lower calorie meals to have a balanced diet. Also, part of that puzzle has to be physical activity to prevent unwanted weight gain, you have to balance calories in vs. calories out.
A good meal pattern involves eating several times a day and trying not to overdo it at any one meal. However, if you do have a big high fat lunch, have a small, light dinner. If you know you are going to have a big dinner, aim to eat smaller, healthy meals and snacks for the earlier part of the day. You can still enjoy a large meal but plan healthier, smaller options for the rest of the day.
Healthy snacks can be an important part of a healthy diet. Healthy snacks can help hold you over between meals and provide needed nutrients. Remember when snacking to choose combination foods. For instance, low fat yogurt with fruit, or whole grain crackers with low fat cheese are good choices. The combination of protein and carbohydrate can help maintain blood sugars and make you feel filled.
It is important not to feel deprived of your favorite foods or to feel you are never “allowed” to have certain foods because that kind of thinking just leads you to want those forbidden foods more. So enjoy your night time ice cream snack, but have a few berries with it, stick to the serving suggested on the nutrition label, and remember to be physically active.
Exercise — is important.
Be physically active your Way! Pick an activity that you like and do it. Start with 10 minutes at a time and work your way up. Don’t be afraid to try new activities like water aerobics, tennis, or taking an exercise or yoga class. Remember any physical activity is beneficial to your health.
Some benefits of physical activity that people often don’t realize; exercise gives you MORE energy. Thirty minutes of physical activity will leave you feeling more energized to do other things that need to be accomplished during the day. It also helps boost your mood by releasing endorphins.
The recommended time for children is 60 minutes per day; adults 2.5 hours or more per week. Older adults should set a goal to be active every day for at least 30 minutes. Remember to drink plenty of water when being physically active. The recommended amount of water for men is 13 cups/day and for women nine cups (eight ounce cups) Sports drinks do not take the place of water. They contain calories and sugar and are needed for extreme physical activity such as pro football and running marathons. Plain water is best for everyday exercise.
Over the years the theme and campaigns have evolved but the focus is still on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits
Follow the 2013 national nutrition month them Eat right your way, every day.”