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Comanche Trace

Rethink How You Eat

Posted by Jane on February 1, 2012 at 3:01 AM

REINVIGORATE YOUR RESOLUTIONS WITH NUTRITION AWARENESS

By February, most people are well into the pursuit of their New Year’s resolutions. Those few extra pounds gained over the holidays, the result of tempting treats and too many parties, are being attacked with a vengeance. The treadmills at the gym are working overtime! The exercise habits that maybe slipped a little by year end are back on track. Will that be enough to get your weight down to a satisfactory and healthy level? PROBABLY NOT!

Those extra holiday pounds maybe joined an already large number on the scale. Has your weight in the last few years been slowly creeping up? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of an epidemic in America – OBESITY! In 1976, 15% of our population was in the obese category (having a body mass index of 30 or greater). By 2006, that category grew to 35.1%. And it’s only increasing. In an article in Prevention magazine (Oct. 2011), Dr. Arthur Agatston (author of the South Beach Diet), discussed how the obesity epidemic is affecting not only people’s waistlines, but their health as well. “If we don’t make the positive lifestyle changes needed to halt and reverse the obesity epidemic now – today – our health care system will be bankrupted by the sheer numbers of sick Americans.” As a cardiologist, Dr. Agatston is seeing increasing heart disease in people from ages 30 to 45, which he attributes to sedentary lifestyles and careless eating habits. He predicts that for the fi rst time in modern history, this generation may have shorter life spans than their parents.

As important as exercise is to health, exercise alone is not enough. Hours and hours of treadmill time can be negated by eating mistakes. And you don’t need to be a registered dietician to eat correctly. With so many choices out there, you just need to follow a few basic principles to get you back on the right nutrition track.

We can conquer the obesity epidemic, one meal at a time. It’s important not just to that number on the scale, but to our long term health. We may not be perfect, but by making healthier choices most of the time, we’ll be on the right track.

You’re in control of what you eat. Make those choices count. Ask yourself the following questions:

WHAT ARE YOU EATING?
What you put in your mouth has huge health correlations. Getting a well-balanced diet is a key to how you look and how you feel. Don’t get caught up in fad diets which forbid or severely limit entire food groups (low-carb, lowfat, high protein, etc.) What you should restrict, however, are processed foods. If it comes in a box or a bag and has more than 3 ingredients, it is probably a processed food. Think about this concept: Eat Closer to the Earth. That is, foods in their natural state are going to be healthier than when they’re processed. For example, baked or roasted potatoes are much healthier than French fries. An orange is better than orange juice, which is better than an orange fl avored sports drink. Limit the majority of your grocery purchases to the perimeter of the store (fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and fi sh, low fat dairy products), and be sure and add whole grain cereals, breads and pastas.

HOW MUCH ARE YOU EATING?
Besides eating many of the wrong things, Americans are eating way too much. We have super-sized our meals and our weight. Here’s an example. I have three sets of dishes, purchased in 1938, 1978, and 1998. Look at the changes: Dinner plate sizes: 1938 – 9.75”; 1978 – 10.75”; 1998 – 11.5”. We have always been taught to clean our plates, right? Well, a lot more food fi ts onto those new plates! Portion control is the key here. Know what a normal portion looks like, and stick to it. If you go out to dinner, ask for a to-go box before you start eating and put part of your meal in it. You won’t stuff yourself, and you’ll have lunch tomorrow!

WHERE ARE YOU EATING?
In our multitasking society, it has become quite common to eat many of our meals standing at the kitchen counter, sitting in front of the computer, lounging on the couch with the TV, or in our car. When we acquire these habits, mindless eating takes over. We’re not consciously focused on what or how much we’re eating, nor are we probably enjoying the experience. To make your meals a significant part of your day, sit at a dining table and focus on the task at hand. Whenever possible, make meals a time when you connect to family or friends. You will feel more satisfied because eating will become more than just about the food.

WHEN ARE YOU EATING?
Eating regularly throughout the day is important. Begin with breakfast. Starting your day with some fruit, whole grains and protein will not only give you energy, but will also jump-start your metabolism. Eat regularly scheduled small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day instead of starving yourself and then gorging later. Your energy levels will be more balanced, and you will be getting the majority of your calories during the most physically active part of your day.

Jane

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