Archive for Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Steps to a healthier lifestyle

March 3, 2004


Since March is National Nutrition Month, our church circle is interested in emphasizing good nutrition. What is this year's theme?

National Nutrition Month 2004's theme is "Eat Smart, Stay Healthy." Sponsored annually by the American Dietetic Assn., National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

"Eat Smart, Stay Healthy" means being smart about the foods you eat -- knowing what you are eating and making wise food choices.

Quick quiz on nutrition

To help you get focused on eating smart to stay healthy, test your knowledge by taking this true or false quiz:

1. Keeping a daily food record of what you eat is a good weight management strategy.

2. Margarine contains fewer fats and calories than butter.

3. Forty percent of American adults are overweight or obese (with a Body Mass Index of 25 or above).

4. Soy products are a good source of protein.

5. Fruit drinks count as a serving from the fruit group in the Food Guide Pyramid.

6. While you are shopping, it is OK to leave your groceries in the car more than 2 hours.

7. Drinking bottled water is healthier for you than tap water.

8. Nuts are OK to eat as part of a low-fat diet.

9. You don't need to eat fruits, vegetables or whole grain foods to get your daily requirements for fiber.

10. Children that eat breakfast are more likely to keep their weight under control.

11. When you eat a meal it takes about 10 minutes for your brain to get the message that you are full.

12. Making time for family meals means children and teens get to eat more nutritious foods.

Answer key

How did you do? Here's the correct answers:

1. True. This has been shown to be a very powerful behavior modification technique for weight management to help you decrease calories and lose weight. Keeping a food record for a week or two can give you insight into your eating habits, and help identify areas you might need to change. It can help you think twice before indulging in a high fat snack.

2. False. Ounce for ounce, the calorie and fat content of regular margarine and butter are the same, about 35 calories and 4 grams of fat per teaspoon. Both are fat, but the source differs. Butter contains more saturated fat than margarine. Because margarine is made from vegetable oil it has no cholesterol. Choose soft tub or liquid margarines rather than stick margarines, which have more saturated fat and trans fats.

3. False. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 61 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Successful weight management strategies include keeping food logs, watching portions sizes, being active, and choosing healthy foods from the Food Guide Pyramid.

4. True. As a source of protein, most soy products like tofu, soy milk, whole soybeans and tempeh are good alternatives to meat, poultry and fish. Look for calcium-fortified soy milk and tofu. Soy milk is cholesterol-free, but the fat content is similar to 2 percent cow's milk; also look for low-fat versions of soy milk.

5. False. No, not even if fruit juice is one of the ingredients. Many fruit-flavored drinks fit at the top of the Food Guide Pyramid because they are mainly water with fruit flavor and added sugars. Look for a 100 percent fruit juice, which is a good source of vitamin C.

6. False. Discard all perishable foods like milk, meat, soups and leftovers that have been at room temperature for more than 2 hours to avoid the risk of food borne illness. Remember, when in doubt throw it out.

7. False. Both bottled and tap water is monitored carefully for quality and safety. The only real nutritional differences may be the fluoride and lead. Both tap water or bottled water may or may not be fluoridated. You need to check. In places where lead content of water is a concern, bottled water may be a good choice.

8. True. Although they are high in fat, nuts contain mostly unsaturated fat (a good fat), and are good sources of protein, magnesium and the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium. Nuts have many healthy benefits and can be included in a low-fat diet as long as the portions are small.

9. False. To meet the 20 to 35 gram daily target for fiber, eat at least five serving of fruits and vegetables a day, plus three servings of whole grain foods like whole wheat breads and cereals. Dietary fiber plays a variety of roles in maintaining good health.

10. True. They also are more likely to have lower blood cholesterol levels, meet their daily nutritional needs, attend school more frequently and make fewer trips to the school nurse's office complaining of a tummy ache.

11. False. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you are full. To avoid overeating, eat slowly and take time to enjoy your food.

12. True. Children consume more nutritious meals if they eat an evening meal with their parents. In a recent study, children who ate an average of six to seven family meals weekly, had higher intakes of dairy foods, fruits and vegetables than those who ate three or fewer family meals per week. Parents can be positive role models and help their children adopt healthier eating habits.

Here's a guideline

Susan Moores, a registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Assn., suggests these tips for National Nutrition Month:

  • Whatever the food, eat a sensible serving size. Knowing the appropriate serving sizes for you is part of eating smart.
  • Add color to your plate by eating more fruits and vegetables. It's the most significant lifestyle change you'll make. Think red, green and orange -- fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that may help prevent some cancers and lowers blood pressure. Try adding fresh fruit to pancakes or yogurt.
  • Explore the wide world of foods -- expand your tastes and get the nutrients your body needs. Try a new food or recipe at least once a month or new ethnic cuisine at a local restaurant.
  • Be active every day. If you walk as little as a mile a day you will feel more energetic. Take the stairs instead of the escalator and walk or ride your bicycle around the neighborhood.
  • Build more muscle and be stronger at any age with regular weight training.

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