Remember Those Resolutions!

By Anna Sachse

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Posted March 12, 2009 in Mind Body Spirit

March is National Nutrition Month, which strikes me as remarkably appropriate timing. Right about now is usually when New Year’s resolutions—such as striving for better health—take their last gasp before dying. Who knows if the timing was on purpose, but regardless, just in time for fretting-about-bikini season, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) created National Nutrition Month, an annual 31-day campaign that “focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.” This year’s theme is, quite simply, Eat Right.

 

To help get you started, the National Nutrition Month page on the ADA’s website, www.eatright.org, has an abundance of health related material, such as Nutrition Fact Sheets, recommended diet and fitness books, links to MyPyramid and help finding a Registered Dietitian. You can also play Nutrition Sudoku, take an Interactive Quiz with obvious answers (hint: if you say you never eat fruit or vegetables, you probably won’t fare well on the quiz) and peruse a Fad Diet Timeline that includes such winners as: Horace Fletcher’s “Fletcherizing” diet in 1903, which mandated chewing each bite of food 32 times; the “Cigarette Diet” in 1925, infamous for the slogan “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet;” and a version of the low-carb diet called the “Calories Don’t Count Diet,” in 1961, which dictated that you could eat as many calories as you wanted from fat and protein as long as you consumed two of the author’s own brand of safflower oil capsules before each meal—everyone related to both book and pills was later convicted of drug violations, postal fraud and conspiracy charges brought against them by the FDA.  

 

Eat Right is kind of a counterpoint to all those fad diets of days past. Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated, says the ADA. Start with these recommendations for a healthy eating plan from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: emphasize fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products; include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts; and limit saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars. 

 

After you finally get these basics through your thick skull, consider the ADA’s other key messages for 2009:

 

Make Your Calories Count. Instead of “good” or “bad” foods, focus on making sure the majority of your food choices are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. This way you’re far more likely to end up with an apple and a handful of almonds than you are with a Krispy Kreme and a six-pack of Coke.

 

Focus on Variety. To get the range of nutrients you need, fill your grocery basket with produce from every color of the rainbow. Mix up meat with fish, beans and peas. And eat at least three ounces of whole grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.

 

Know Your Fats. Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you eat should be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. 

 

Physical Activity for Fitness and Health. Eat less + move more = ideal weight and overall better mind, body and spirit. The ADA recommends setting a goal to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day. If you are currently inactive, start with a few minutes of activity such as walking, and then gradually increase the minutes as you become stronger.  

 

It may not be as sexy as an all-you-can-eat-bacon-cheddar-burger-on-the-couch diet, but this is the only real recipe for long-term success. Accept it and you will be thinner, have more energy and live longer. Simple.


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