Eating Your Way to a Healthier YOU!
Eating high-saturated fat, high salt, high-sugar foods will almost certainly prevent your body from working efficiently and maintaining your wellness.
The 21st century’s promise of new health care innovations will likely result in a greater understanding of many medical conditions and health practices. However, one disease that has continued to baffle doctors and patients is the topic of today’s article: obesity.
Why has obesity increased so much over the past two decades? Why is obesity so difficult to contain and subdue? Why are our children becoming bigger and less healthy?
According to the August 27, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly one third of all American adults are obese, a proportion that has doubled in 20 years. Childhood obesity has also doubled during this same 20-year period.
Many people speculate about the causes of obesity. The seemingly obvious causes of eating too much and exercising too little leave out a variety of societal influences that, when added up, may be too much for a better diet and more activity to overcome. Causes such as urban sprawl, fast food restaurants, a glut of high-calorie snack foods, lack of available fresh produce, financial hardship, chronic illness, and many more begin to explain how much work remains to stop or even reverse the trend of our obesity epidemic.
How can you contribute to a healthier, leaner, more vigorous you?
The answer lies in the food you eat. It’s a matter of both quality and quantity. Let’s discuss both.
At the restaurant
- Reduce portion size by sharing a large appetizer for your main course or splitting your dinner in two, then take half of it home for your next dinner meal.
- Request that dressings, gravies and sauces be served on the side
- Order your meat, fish, or poultry broiled, baked, steamed, or poached rather than sautéed or deep-fried
- Be wary of foods that are described as buttery, creamed, fried, au gratin, or marinated in oil because these terms indicate higher fat content.
- Have a non-alcoholic, water-based beverage more often to cut down on calories. Add lime or lemon to jazz up the flavor.
- Relearn the art of leaving some food uneaten on your plate. Your body will thank you for it.
- Buy nuts in bulk and bag them in portions that can fit in the palm of your hand…makes a high quality and nutritious snack.
- For a homemade milkshake, mix your choice of fruit with milk or yogurt in a blender. For more volume, add a few ice cubes.
- Air-pop your own popcorn and save calories. Crunch on some fresh veggies with your favorite homemade dip. Fruit salad goes great with your favorite non-fat yogurt and a dash of cinnamon.
- Create your own “office” trail mix by combining one cup each of sesame sticks, almonds, and raisins.
The quality of the food you eat determines the likelihood of your body’s ability to process, digest, absorb, and retain vital nutrition found in the foods. Eating high-saturated fat, high salt, high-sugar foods will almost certainly prevent your body from working efficiently and maintaining your wellness. Not only that, your body will suffer from multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies, not all of which can be fixed by popping a vitamin supplement. Food preparation also determines the quality of the food. An example of the above is to take a healthy food, such as a potato, a staple of the American diet for centuries, and deep-fry it in hot oil. The potato loses most of its beneficial vitamins and minerals and absorbs a significant dose of fat. The potato has become a low-quality food and hence is not able to help your body become or stay healthy.
The quantity of the food you eat and the recommended amount of food that you should eat has been the subject of countless libraries of books. Research has demonstrated that overeating is the main cause of obesity. With one third of all Americans’ calories coming from foods prepared away from the home, it is imperative that everyone be able to understand where those calories are, and how to lessen their consumption. Fast food industry and restaurants have begun to share the calorie information about their foods, but not enough to sway people to make healthier choices. Mandating calorie content on menus is a step in the right direction and will likely be adopted by most restaurants in the near future. In the meanwhile, you can do your part. Below are some helpful nutrition tips. I have broken them into sections: at the restaurant, snacking, and general. Any or all of these tips can help you stay lean, fit, and full of energy.
Bring your own meals to school, work, or play. The sandwich you make is far more likely to be healthier than a store bought or restaurant-purchased one simply because you know what’s in it. You placed the amount of food that satisfies without overdoing, and it is likely less salty, sugary, and fatty.
Eat slowly. The body digests, processes and absorbs the nutrition found within the food you eat better if you simply take your time, chewing deliberately and easily. And you’ll get less heartburn!
Don’t deprive yourself. It’s okay to give into your cravings now and then. Recognize that some cravings are momentary and pass. Savoring the moment will prolong the joy and help satisfy your craving. When you do satisfy your craving, make it a special occasion, and enjoy!
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"Eating Your Way to a Healthier YOU!"
Dr. Grief is a graduate of McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He is a past Residency Program Director of the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Family Medicine, and former radio health show host in New Hampshire. Dr. Grief's main inter...