Healthy eating starts with learning new ways to eat, such as adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and cutting back on foods that have a lot of fat, salt, and sugar.
A change to healthier eating also includes learning about balance, variety, and moderation.
Why pay attention to what you eat?
Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to prevent and control many health problems, such as:
Is healthy eating the same as going on a diet?
Healthy eating is not a diet. It means making changes you can live with and enjoy for the rest of your life.
How do you make healthy eating a habit?
First, think about your reasons for healthier eating. Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to feel better? Are you trying to set an example for your kids?
Next, think about some small changes you can make. Pick ones you can keep doing.
- Don’t try to change everything at once.
- Set an easy goal you can reach, like having a salad and a piece of fruit each day.
- Make a long-term goal too, such as having one vegetarian dinner a week.
Where can you get support?
Having support from others can be a huge help. The more support you have, the easier it will be to make changes. Ask family and friends to practice healthy eating with you. Have them help you make meals, and share healthy, delicious recipes and cooking tips.
If you need more help, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. Look online for groups that support healthy eating and share success stories.
Now that the science fair project is officially over (except for her presentation at Regionals on March 23), people have asked me if I’m “going back”. Uh, no! I’ve lost 20 lbs in 90 days. I feel better. My blood pressure is normal. I’m sleeping better. Besides the pain in my back (I think it’s the new office chair I was given), I feel better than I have in years.
I get the “are you going back” question the most at lunch time at work. I’ve talked with a lot of my coworkers (who have noticed the weight loss). Many of the women have joined a Weight Watchers group. Some of the guys are doing it on their own. Some are taking a radical approach. Some are successful…others are not.
Again, I’m not following a “diet” or reading a fitness guru book. I know this is a repeat, but this is what I’m doing:
1. Planning/Goal setting – I use My Fitness Pal every day, every meal.
2. Healthy choices – I eat more vegetables and fresh fruit. I have really cut back on junk food. I’m even thinking of moving towards a more vegetarian lifestyle.
3. Portion control – I don’t eat for 3 anymore. This has been significant for me. I think it’s been key.
4. Exercise – I exercise at least 3 days/week for at least 1 hour. My routine for now consists of 50% strength training and 50% cardio. I need to make some changes and intensify my workouts.
After all of that, what’s for dinner tonight?
* Steamed broccoli
* Fruit (perhaps an apple)
March 1st, 2013
Today I have four tips that I will help you get better. For you that might mean healthier. Maybe shed some pounds. Or at least maintain the pounds you’ve already shed. Regardless of your goals, there are a few simple nutrition tips and strategies that will benefit all of us.
And none of them have to do with eating x or not eating y.
First, learn to cook. There is no single more important factor that will permanently change your health, your body and set you up for permanent results. I admit cooking isn’t the easiest thing. But learning some basics around the kitchen is a must. Maybe try a local cooking class or pick up a simple cookbook or magazine and challenge yourself to try 1 new recipe per week. If you’re relying solely on take out or eating out, though, staying on track will be an uphill battle.
Second, eat what you love!
Eat what you love. I often hear people talk about eating “diet” foods like rice cakes, low fat this and low carb that. But if you don’t enjoy any of those foods, don’t eat them. You should enjoy what you eat. The challenge is eating the right portions of those foods you love. This might mean splitting a dinner with someone or enjoying an appetizer and a salad.
Third, be in charge when eating out. This may seem strange after I just told you to learn how to cook, but let’s face it, you will eat out on occasion. We all will. But be in charge and be smart about your choices. I say be in charge meaning you’re the paying customer; ask for what you want (within reason). Ask to swap the fries for a baked potato. Ask for a side of veggies instead of the rice. Ask for them to not put the bread on your table. You get the idea.
Piggybacking on #3, fourth, spend money on better restaurants when you do eat out. What do I mean by this? Rather than eating out at less expensive, not real high quality restaurants, or spending $10-$20 getting take out several times per week, save that and make eating out a more special occasion. You’ll spend more at that single time, but when saving by not eating out so regularly, it will be worth it in the end. You’ll A) get better food and B) not be eating out at less healthful restaurants the rest of the time.
There you have it – 4 super simple, yet very effective tips when permanently changing your health and body.
6. Never Skip Breakfast:
Yes, mornings are crazy. But they’re also our best hope at regaining our nutritional sanity. A 2005 study synthesized the results of 47 other studies that examined the impact of starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Here’s what they found:
People who skip breakfast are more likely to take up smoking or drinking, less likely to exercise, and more likely to follow fad diets or express concerns about body weight. Common reasons cited for skipping were lack of time, lack of hunger, or dieting.
Bad news. Sure, it would seem to make sense that skipping breakfast means eating fewer calories, which means weighing less. But it doesn’t work that way. Consider:
People who eat breakfast tend to have higher total calorie intakes throughout the day, but they also get significantly more fiber, calcium, and other micronutrients than skippers do. Breakfast eaters also tended to consume less soda and French fries and more fruits, vegetables, and milk.
Breakfast eaters were approximately 30 percent less likely to be overweight or obese. (Think about that—people who eat breakfast eat more food, but weigh less!)
5. Snack With Purpose:
There’s a big difference between mindless munching and strategic snacking. Snacking with purpose means reinforcing good habits, keeping your metabolic rate high, and filling the gaps between meals with the nutrients your child’s body craves.
Chew on this piece of trivia: In the 20 years leading up to the 21st century (1977 to 1996), salty snack portions increased by 93 calories, and soft drink portions increased by 49 calories.
Combat portion distortion by eating healthy snacks: Triscuits and peanut butter; string cheese; a sandwich bag filled with homemade popcorn; or that classic of kid’s snacktime nourishment, ants on a log.
4. Beware of Portion Distortion:
Snack portions aren’t the only things that have increased wildly in size. Since 1977, hamburgers have increased by 97 calories, French fries by 68 calories, and Mexican foods by 133 calories, according to analysis of the Nationwide Food Consumption Survey.
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine looked at 63,380 individuals’ drinking habits over a span of 19 years. The results show that for children ages 2 to 18, portions of sweetened beverages increased from 13.1 ounces in 1977 to 18.9 ounces in 1996.
One easy way to short-circuit this growing trend? Buy smaller bowls and cups. A recent study at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, shows that 5- and 6-year-old children will consume a third more calories when presented with a larger portion. The findings are based on a sample of 53 children who were served either 1- or 2-cup portions of macaroni and cheese.
3. Drink Responsibly:
Too many of us keep in mind the adage “watch what you eat,” and we forget another serious threat to our health: We don’t watch what we drink. In fact, according to research from the University of North Carolina, Americans now slurp up nearly 25 percent of their calories in liquid form—nearly double the rate we used to drink just 20 years ago. One study found that sweetened beverages constituted more than half (51 percent) of all beverages consumed by fourth- through sixth-grade students. The students who consumed the most sweetened beverages took in approximately 330 extra calories per day, and on average they ate less than half the amount of real fruit than did their peers who drank unsweetened or lightly sweetened beverages.
One important strategy is to keep cold, filtered water in a pitcher in the fridge. You might even want to keep some cut-up limes, oranges, or lemons nearby for kids to flavor their own water with. A UK study showed that in classrooms with limited access to water, only 29 percent of students met their daily needs; free access to water led to higher intake.
Another important strategy: Be extra careful about the juice you purchase. Too many “juices” are little more than sugar water masquerading as the real thing. Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry, for instance, has just 15 percent real fruit juice. The other 85 percent? High-fructose corn syrup and water. Make sure the juice you buy says “100 percent Fruit Juice” on the label, and try to choose one made from a single fruit, not a mix of high-sugar fruits like white grapes, which are commonly used in fruit juice blends.
2. Eat More Whole Foods and Fewer Science Experiments:
Here’s a rule of healthy eating that will serve you well when picking out foods for your family: The shorter the ingredients list, the healthier the food. (One of the worst foods we’ve ever found, the Baskin-Robbins Heath Shake, has 73 ingredients—and, by the way, a whopping 2,310 calories and more than 3 days’ worth of saturated fat! What happened to the idea that a milk shake was, um, milk and ice cream? Let’s be grateful that Baskin-Robbins finally pulled this monstrosity from their menus.) The FDA maintains a list of more than 3,000 ingredients that are considered safe to eat, but we’ve found reasons for concern for a number of the additives on that long list, and any one of them could wind up in your next box of mac ’n’ cheese.
According to USDA reports, most of the sodium in the American diet comes from packaged and processed foods. Naturally occurring salt accounts for only 12 percent of total intake, while 77 percent is added by food manufacturers.
1. Set the Table:
Children in families with more structured mealtimes exhibit healthier eating habits. Among middle- and high-school girls, those whose families ate together only once or twice per week were more than twice as likely to exhibit weight control issues, compared with those who ate together three or four times per week.
Of course, the notion of a 6 p.m. dinnertime and then everyone into their pj’s is a quaint one, but it’s hardly realistic in a society where our kids have such highly scheduled social lives that the delineation between “parent” and “chauffeur” is sometimes difficult to parse. While we can’t always bring the family together like Ozzie Nelson’s (or, heck, even like Ozzy Osbourne’s), we can make some positive steps in that direction. One busy family I know keeps Sunday night dinner sacred—no social plans, no school projects, no extra work brought home from the office. Even keeping the family ritual just once a week gives parents the opportunity to point out what is and isn’t healthy at the dinner table.
Well, here are the photos. The first one was taken at the beginning of this science fair project. It was taken on December 3, 2012. I weighed 226 lbs. the second photo was taken this morning (Feb 13, 2013). I know weigh 209 lbs. I thought you might like to see my progress to date. I plan to keep on going. Using My Fitness Pal, planning my meals, recording what I eat, exercise, portion control it’s working!
If you have been following my blog for very long, you know this all started with my 3rd grade daughter’s science fair project – the effects of healthy eating and exercise on her 53 year old dad. Well, it’s time for her to creating her display board and then begin practicing her presentation skills. The science fair is on Wed., Feb. 27.
She has learned a lot. So have I. I’ve also lost a lot – 16+ lbs! And I’m not turning back.
I plan to keep this blog running. It’s had nearly 2,000 hits since Dec. 3. I’ve met some great people. I’ve found some very helpful articles. I’ve begun to follow a lot of resourceful folks/sites on Twitter. I’ve been encouraged. Did I say I’ve lost over 16 lbs?
Thanks for reading and sharing this blog. Thank you for the encouragement. I like this new me.
It works if you work it!
by Markham Heid
We all like to do stuff while we eat: watch TV, read a magazine, talk with a buddy—sometimes all three at once. But those distractions take our minds off how much grub we’re shoving down our throats, which can lead to overeating. Want to eat less without being bored? Take smaller bites and sips, according to a new Dutch study.
Researchers served 53 people bowls of tomato soup. As they ate, some people watched videos while others were instructed to think about their soup’s flavor. As the researchers predicted, the distracted video-watchers slurped roughly 11 percent more soup than those who focused on their food. No surprise there.
In a follow-up study, the researchers repeated the same experiment, but gave some people small spoons and others big ones. The big spooners ate about the same amount as the people in the first experiment. But the small spooners, even when distracted, ate 30 percent less soup than the rest of the study participants.
Here’s why: Small bites trick your brain into believing you’re eating more food, explains study co-author Dieuwerke Bolhuis, who studies food research at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The more bites you take, the more your brain’s “taste system” is activated, and the more satisfied you feel, Bolhuis says. Large bites (or spoonfuls) do just the opposite: You eat more food in less time, and your taste system lags behind, meaning you don’t realize you’re full, the study says.
So if you’re trying to curb your mindless binging, Bolhuis’s advice is simple: Take smaller bites. Tiny utensils will help, or just get in the habit of scooping less food onto your fork or spoon, she says. And speaking of small solutions: Past research shows eating from small plates or dishing out food using small serving utensils also fools your brain into believing you’ve had more to eat. Click here to check out more sneaky portion-control tricks.
So you’re working to lose weight. You work hard on planning your meals. You are sticking with your exercise schedule. Then you have a lunch meeting you have attend. How do you handle the ordering of food in front of your colleagues and/or guests?
Option 1: Puff out your chest and loudly declare, “I’m getting fit. I won’t eat the garbage you just ordered! Give me veggies or give me death!”
Option 2: Order the 5 cheese cheeseburger with the side of mega-fries. Oh, and keep up with the eating of the free rolls that keep coming to your table.
Option 3: Stick to your plan. You know what your plan is and order accordingly. It’s doubtful that your lunch guests will say anything. If they do, tell them what you’re doing and share your results. Not in pride. As a matter of fact. You should be proud of your determination, but you don’t need to ram it down anyone’s throat. Chances are, you’ll be respected for your discipline. Besides, you don’t need the wrong food to mix with guilt.