Strategies For Healthy Eating In The New Year

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Looking at the calendar we see a whole new year rising before us -- bright and shining, unblemished by setbacks, failures, losses or disappointments. The new year is full of hope.

Every morning offers a fresh chance for pursuing happiness and better health.

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Mondo Flores, produce manager for the Payson Safeway, has plenty of healthy eating choices in stock. Experts urge adding lots more fruits and vegetables to your eating plan for a healthier lifestyle.

To help get started on this journey to better health, the new director of food and nutrition at Payson Regional Medical Center, Diane Frederick Bedsworth, shares some strategies for healthy eating.

"Good nutrition is good for everyone," she said. "I try to make people realize it's a lifestyle change, not a diet."

The first strategy Frederick Bedsworth suggests is "mindful eating -- eat when you are hungry; eat slowly; stop when you feel full."

"It takes 20 minutes for the brain to get the idea you're full," she said. "That's why you want to eat slowly. Have a conversation (over the meal)."

The biggest challenge in this first strategy is stopping, she said.

Her second recommendation is "portion size -- use the "Plate Model" for healthy eating."

Using a regular sized dinner plate, 8 or 9 inches in diameter: place enough grains or starchy vegetables on it to take up a quarter of the space; in a second quarter, place the meat or other protein food of the meal; then use the remaining half of the plate for vegetables and fruits.

Portion control

She said if the Plate Model doesn't work, other images to employ for portion control include:

  • a 3-ounce serving of meat, fish or poultry is the size of a deck of cards;
  • a 3-ounce serving of grilled or baked fish is the size of a regular checkbook;
  • a 1-1/2 ounce serving of cheese is the size of four stacked dice;
  • a serving of bread is a single slice, half of an English muffin or one, small bagel;
  • one, 1/2 cup serving of potatoes, hot cereal, cooked vegetables, chopped, canned or cooked fruit is the size of a tennis ball;
  • a serving of fresh fruit is also the size of a tennis ball;
  • two servings (1 cup) of cooked vegetables or fruit is the size of your fist;
  • a 1-cup serving of raw, leafy vegetables is also the size of your fist;
  • one serving or 1 teaspoon of oil or butter is the size of the tip of your thumb.

"Our hunger levels vary," Frederick Bedsworth said. "Trust your body. Understand its signals and then respond appropriately. Sometimes a portion control serving is not enough, sometimes it's too much."

The current federal guidelines for nutrition are: 30 percent or less of your total daily calories should come from fat, of that less than 10 percent should be saturated fat, less than 1 percent can be trans fat and you should consume less than 300 milligrams a day of cholesterol. The total of carbohydrates should account for 55 to 75 percent of your daily calories, while protein should be only 10 to 15 percent. It is recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables be eaten every day, or one pound. For good health, the daily diet should contain more than 25 grams of fiber and less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium.

"The average diet has about 6,000 milligrams of sodium," Bedsworth said.

She recommends more fiber though, at least 28 grams of it each day.

"Average Americans eat only 12 to 15 grams per day," she said. Increase fiber by choosing more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but do so gradually if you have not been choosing these foods to avoid gastric distress.

The fourth strategy for healthy eating is common sense, "Fill your kitchen and refrigerator with healthy, low fat choices." (See the information box below for details.)

Fifth on Bedsworth's strategy list: Food should taste good. Experiment with herbs and spices. Try new cuisines.

She said everyone should be reading the Nutrition Facts on food labels -- don't be afraid to use a magnifying glass if you need to. Look at serving size, servings per container and calories.

Another strategy: Increase activity. A pedometer is a helpful tool to monitor your "steps" -- try to increase your walking to at least 10,000 steps a day.

Finally, drink six to eight glasses of water. Have a glass before you sit down to eat.

"Water helps fill you up," Frederick Bedsworth said.

She also said it's good to snack -- if it's healthy.

A few other suggestions she shared come from the "Communicating Food for Health" (CFH) newsletter:

  • Resolve to eat more lowfat soups and salads during the week. It is even better if you can eat them before a meal. -- Like water, they start filling you up, which results in eating less to become "full."
  • Eat more meals made at home. Clean out your refrigerator and your kitchen and make them more efficient so you enjoy cooking at home more often.
  • Trade TV hours for cleaning hours. You can burn between 176 and 317 calories per hour by doing light to heavy cleaning. By comparison, if you are watching TV or sitting at the computer, you will only burn around 70 calories per hour. (These calculations are for a person who weighs around 160 pounds.)

Keeping in mind the "little steps" recommendation, Bedsworth shared a month-by-month guide from the CFH newsletter on strategies for healthy eating in the new year:

January -- Think Souper-bowl and incorporate more bowls of soups and salads into your diet. Use plenty of vegetables, but keep them low in fat and sodium. See www.foodandhealth.com for recipes.

February -- This is Heart Month, so focus on limiting or omitting foods that are high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids and cholesterol, such as fatty meats, fried foods, and animal-based foods. Increase consumption of seafood.

March -- Good nutrition is this month's focus, so increase the fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nonfat or low-fat milk and milk products in your diet. For more information see www.eatright.org.

April -- Add variety to your eating lifestyle, try new things and new combinations.

May -- Blood Pressure Month means trying to use less salt in your foods. Use different herbs and spices, citrus fruits and vinegars to add flavor. Be especially vigilant about the sodium content in canned, frozen, packaged and bottled foods.

June -- The weather is right for getting outside and moving more. Try to be physically active every day.

July -- Harvest good health with all the fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season now.

August -- Back to school means making sure everyone is eating as nutritiously as possible away from home.

October -- Play it safe with food: wash your hands before and after handling food; keep food surfaces clean; don't cross-contaminate ready-to-serve foods with the juices of raw meats, seafood and poultry; keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

November -- Plan ahead and you can enjoy the coming feasts and still stick to healthy eating.

December -- Review: What strategies for healthy eating worked for you? Are there others to try? Can some of the more challenging strategies be modified to work better?

Bedsworth has worked in the food and nutrition industry for more than 30 years. She said she was drawn to the field by a combination of an interest in science and a love of baking and cooking.

Her family's history of cardiac problems was also a factor when she began to prepare for a career.

She moved to the Rim country from the Minneapolis area, though this is not the first time she has lived in the Southwest. "We wanted to get back to the west to hike and fish," she said.

For a consultation with Diane Frederick Bedsworth about the best eating strategies for your health, you will need a referral from your primary care physician. With that, you can make an appointment with PRMC's central scheduling. Call (928) 474-3222.

The Healthy Kitchen

  • fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese
  • eggs and egg substitutes
  • whole grain breads, bagels, pita bread or English muffins
  • soft corn tortillas or low-fat flour tortillas
  • low-fat, low sodium crackers
  • plain whole grain cereal -- dry or cooked
  • whole grain rice and pasta
  • white meat poultry with the skin removed
  • fish and shellfish -- plain, not breaded
  • beef -- round, sirloin, chuck, arm, loin and extra lean ground beef
  • pork -- leg, shoulder, tenderloin
  • dry beans and peas
  • fresh, frozen , canned fruits in juice
  • fresh, frozen or no-salt-added canned vegetables
  • low-fat or nonfat salad dressings
  • herbs and spices
  • salsa
  • mustard and ketchup

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