March is my favorite month of the year, because it's National Nutrition Month! March is a great month to let the country know that registered dietitians are the nutrition experts. This year's theme is "100% Fad Free!"
Have you ever been on a diet? Was it a fad diet? Fad diets caught my attention when I was a teenager. I tried a few of them. Much to my surprise they didn't work. So it has been interesting for me to watch the fad diets come and go for over 30 years. Fad diets can be expensive and may not be effective. Some fad diets could be harmful to your long term health.
It's best to adopt a healthy lifestyle by slowly incorporating healthy food and exercise habits into your life. Don't be fooled. Follow these guidelines:
*If it sounds too good to be true, it is. There is no such thing as a quick fix.
*Avoid special products that guarantee a weight loss of 5-20 pounds a week. (Not going to happen)
*Is there a list "good" or "bad" foods? Use common sense. Anything can be eaten in moderation.
*Do you have to buy special foods or supplements?
*Do you have to eliminate specific foods or entire food groups?
Remember, a registered dietitian can put together a healthy food and exercise plan that specifically meets your needs. Go to www.eatright.org to find a registered dietitian near you.
If you want to lose weight and eat healthy, avoid fads while shopping. Do you have questions about foods at the grocery store? Let's go on a grocery shopping tour.
Walk quickly past the fresh bakery section. Too many temptations. Keep your eyes forward until you have reached the produce section. Stop and admire the many colors. Red, orange, yellow, green, even purple. All of the fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs are very healthy for you and low in calories. Fruits and vegetables have lots of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. You can't go wrong here. Load up your cart. Look for the specials on sale. Try to eat 5-9 servings a day. A serving size is only one-half cup, so with a little practice it's easy to eat 5-9 a day.
Do you like bananas? Oranges? Strawberries? Eat fruit instead of cookies. How about tomatoes, carrots, or broccoli? Very healthy. Pile lots of vegetables on a sandwich. Try a new vegetable every week.
Next, we are in the dairy section. Most children and adults don't get enough calcium in their diets. Calcium is very important for bones, muscles, and nerves. Stop and fill up your cart. Look for nonfat and 1% items. They are less calories. It could be milk, yogurt, or cheese. Make sure you get 2-3 a day. There is nothing better than an ice cold nonfat glass of chocolate milk. Feeling hungry in the afternoon? Choose yogurt.
Now we are in the salad dressing and pasta aisle. Look for salad dressing with healthy oils like olive oil. Get the most fiber you can. Choose whole wheat pasta. Do your vegetables rot before you get around to cooking them? Choose canned vegetables. If you are watching your sodium, rinse them first to get rid of 30% of the sodium.
Next is the canned bean and tuna aisle. Another good place to stop. The new food guide pyramid recommends beans three times a week. Pick any kind of beans you want. Throw a handful of beans on a salad. Very filling. They are low in calories, high in protein, and high in fiber. Salmon and tuna are good sources of omega three fatty acids, essential for good heart health.
Move on to the oil and bread section. Choose monounsaturated fat oils like olive and canola. They still have calories, but they are better for your health. Read the bread labels for "whole grain" and fiber. Bread should have 2-3 grams of fiber per serving. The new food guide pyramid recommends half of your grains should be whole grain. (more nutrients) It also tastes great.
Red alert! Candy and cookie aisle. If you are tempted, skip this aisle. No nutrients here. These are "discretionary calories". You can usually only afford to eat 200-300 calories a day of the "extras". Better to skip this aisle while you are losing weight.
Good job. That was a close one. Now we have nuts, dried fruit, and juice. This is good. Nuts are a great way to get protein and healthy fat. A handful of nuts might even lower your cholesterol. Dried fruit is an option for fruit. Look for 100% juice. It has nutrients without a lot of sugar.
Next is the cereal and oatmeal aisle. Look for "whole grain" cereals. A handful of "whole grain" sugar cereal makes a satisfying snack instead of a high calorie, no nutrient candy bar. And don't forget to start your day with oatmeal with fruit and nuts. Doesn't get any healthier.
Next, is the vitamin and supplement aisle. No special products are needed for a healthy diet. If you don't eat perfect, (and who does), choose a 100% RDA vitamin. No iron, unless you are anemic.
Meat, chicken, and fish. Protein builds muscle and protects the immune system. Look for lean cuts of beef, such as tenderloin, round steak or flank steak. Choose 95% ground beef. Trim all visible fat and remove the skin from poultry.
We are almost done. Limit your selections at the alcohol section. Alcohol in moderation only. No more than one glass of wine or one can of beer for women. No more than 2 servings a day for men. Alcohol has a lot of calories, and it is metabolized straight to fat.
Eyes forward while you are unloading your groceries. Get a pack of gum, instead of candy. It helps to use a grocery list and stick to it.
Congratulations! You are a healthy shopper. Go to www.eatright.org/nnm for more healthy tips. Have a great month.