You may not consider yourself a gourmet cook or fine food aficionado, but what you eat and how you prepare food for yourself and your family can keep you healthy and help prevent serious disease. It can also help you and your family maintain a healthy weight, prevents chronic disease and boosts your energy levels.
Eating is one of the great pleasures of life and a key component of many of our social interactions. However, many of us consume more calories than we actually need. That’s why nearly 69 percent of U.S. adults 20 and older are overweight or obese. Being obese increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses.
The key to healthy eating is to consume the right amount of calories from the right kinds of foods to support your activity level. It’s easier than you might think. Start by focusing on “real foods” and how you prepare them. Food writer Michael Pollan (author of “In Defense of Food and Food Rules”) says real foods are what our ancestors ate before science started “improving them” (think: processed foods).
To start eating healthier, follow these tips:
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where you’ll find most of the real food, including meat, dairy and produce.
- Limit foods with added sugars and skip foods that list sugar as one of the top five ingredients. Be aware of sugars by other names, including sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup and fructose.
- Use smaller plates. It will encourage you to eat moderate serving sizes.
- Pack healthy lunches and snacks for work and school instead of eating out or visiting the vending machine.
- Eat with others and savor food with family and friends.
- Eat at home instead of eating out. You’ll consume 20 to 40 percent fewer calories.
- If you are overweight, reduce the number of calories (the amount of energy in a serving of food or drink) you consume, increase your activity levels, or both. There are 3,500 calories in one pound. So, to lose one to two pounds per week (a good target), you’ll need to take in 500 to 1,000 fewer calories per day.
Lesley Kendall, MS, RD, CD, clinical coordinator of Nutrition Services at Schneck Medical Center says that, “Eating healthier is easier than you might think. Just start by focusing on 'real foods' instead of eating processed foods.” Lesley also adds, “Eating nutritious food fills you up so you are less likely to overeat.”
For more information on nutritious eating, ask your primary care physician for a referral to Schneck Nutrition Services.