March 01, 2009
Eat Right 101
By Julie Harker Buck
(LDS Life, March 2009)
“Eat your vegetables”, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, “Drink your milk, it will help you grow healthy and strong.”
Growing up in a household of five sisters, we received a lot of nutrition messages intended to help us make good food choices. We grew up with loving parents that provided adequate food and family mealtimes. Little did my family know that I would grow up to become a Registered Dietitian. What were the food lessons you learned while young? What type of food and nutrition information do you receive today?
Let’s consider what our children are viewing on television. It is estimated that children view four hours of television everyday¹. This takes away from time spent in physical activity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours per day². What are children watching? It is estimated that during one year of TV viewing, children will see 2000 beer and wine ads. As parents, friends and relatives, we must take an active role to influence healthy lifestyles in those we know and love.
As March is National Nutrition Month, let’s focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. When deciding to make the best food choices for our health, we should gather as much credible information as we can. This reminds me of the most often asked question each semester while teaching nutrition at Brigham Young University Idaho, “Which is better, butter or margarine?” To best answer this question, each person needs to evaluate their individual health, eating patterns and if fat calories are a concern in their diet. By reviewing each of our health indicators such as meal intake, physical activity, laboratory blood work, weight patterns and genetic influences, an informed food choice and sound eating practice can be made for each of us.
Living a physically active life is more than visiting a gym daily; it is choosing to move more each day. Can we choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator? Walk instead of drive? Push a lawn mower instead of driving one? Stretch our muscles to improve range of motion? Strengthen our muscles to ensure longer independence as we age? Would a pedometer help motivate us to take more steps in a day or give us credit for those we already take? Please consider ways you can daily increase your movements to increase your health and well-being. Recently a co-worker and I found time to walk while at work on a weekly basis. Having someone to encourage me and be there helps me to show up. The best method of becoming more physically active is the one that you will regularly perform.
Overwhelmed? Discouraged? Today, reach for the stars. Right now! Stop reading and stretch your arms to the ceiling. Doesn’t that feel good? Just smile at those in the office/home wondering what you are doing. Roll your head first to the right, then to the left. You are moving. That is progress.
Not sure what to have for dinner? Forgot lunch today? Grab a pen and paper. Write down what is in your cupboard, refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. When I try this experiment with students, the list often reveals foods that could easily be made into a soup, stew or casserole. Many keep food staples on hand for spaghetti, burritos or ready to eat items such as chili or sandwiches. Recording what we eat will create a meal record, which can become a monthly meal plan. Create your shopping list according to your meal plan. Congratulations, you have just reduced stress and saved money by planning your meals ahead of time.
Need to find a nutrition expert in your area? Have a question about something you have heard in the news, from a newspaper or friend? Sorting out the nutrition fact from fallacy takes a lot of time and effort. There is a resource that everyone can use to search for correct facts, pertinent knowledge and helpful documents. Eatright.org is the website from The American Dietetic Association³. They are the international certifying organization for Registered Dietitians and Certified Dietetic Technicians. Recently, they have revised their website to provide a more user friendly source for credible nutrition facts and resources. For those persons preferring a phone number, call 800-877-1600. By accessing the website or calling the toll free number, you can find the answers you are looking for.
1. www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/TV.htm University of Michigan Health System.
2. www.aap.org/ The American Academy of Pediatrics.
3. www.Eatright.org The American Dietetic Association. 1-800-877-1600.
Article written by Julie Harker Buck, MHE, RD, CD, LCCE . Registered Dietitian, Certified DONA doula, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. Mother of six. Adjunct Faculty member in the Department for Home and Family Education at Brigham Young University- Idaho.