9 NUTIRITION TIPS
Today, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, compared to less than half 20 years ago. We spend $42 billion a year on diet books and products in an effort to be trimmer and healthier. The USDA recommends that you "lower your calorie intake, you lower your fats, your carbs, eat more fruits and vegetables more whole grain and you exercise".
- Calories Count - Familiarize yourself with the right number of calories to eat each day. The figure varies with age, activity level and other factors. If you eat 100 more calories a day than you burn, you'll gain about one pound a month or some 10 pounds a year. Likewise, since many adults gain weight slowly over time, even small decreases of 50 to 100 calories each day would enable people to maintain weight instead of gaining weight. To get the most nutrition our of your calories, pick foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and lower in calories.
- Keep a Food Journal - By keeping track of your daily intake you create an awareness of what you actually consume. To a degree, it serves as an accountability partner on paper. By keeping a food journal you are able to get a good visual look at what your diet looks like. Are you heavy on starch? Do you not eat enough fruits or vegetables? Journaling is a great way to help you create good eating habits.
- The Skinny on Fats - The Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping saturated fat intake below 10 percent of calories, cholesterol intake below 300 milligrams a day and trans fat intake as low as possible. Keeping those in check in turn can help keep "bad" cholesterol low and reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating fish rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids twice a week may reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Little Added Sugar - The guidelines recommend choosing and preparing foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners. Spelled out, a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet allows for eight teaspoons of added sugar, less than the amount in a typical 12-ounce can of soda. The guidelines say that people who consume food or beverages high in added sugars tend to consume more calories and also tend to consume lower amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- Salt-Less - The guidelines urge Americans to consume less salt, shaving the sodium recommendation to less than 2,300 milligrams a day (the equivalent to a level teaspoon of salt) from 2,400 milligrams a day. "Nearly all American consume substantially more salt than they need," the guidelines state. "Reducing salt intake is one of the several ways that people may lower their blood pressure. Reducing blood pressure, ideally to the normal range, reduces the risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure and kidney disease."
- Make Half Your Grains Whole - The Dietary Guidelines shine a spotlight on whole grains, recommending that Americans eat at least three one-ounce servings of whole grain food, such as whole wheat, oatmeal, popcorn, bulgur or brown rice, each day. Whole grains are important sources of 14 nutrients, and diets rich in whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes and may help with weight control.
- Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables - Americans should eat more fruits and vegetables, the Dietary Guidelines say, setting a baseline of two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables each day for a 2,000 calorie a day diet. People who eat a generous amount of fruits and veggies decrease their risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. What's more, the potassium found in these foods can help control blood pressure. It's important to eat an array of fruits and vegetables - from dark, green leafy vegetables to rosy berries to sunny citrus fruits - in order to get all the vitamins, minerals, fiber and health-promoting antioxidants they have to offer. Whole fruits make a better choice than fruit juice because they contain fiber.
- Get Your Calcium -Americans should consume more fat-free or low-fat milk products, which are a terrific source of calcium, a mineral that plays a key role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. A recent study also found that drinking milk regularly helped dieters shed more pounds.
- Alcohol in Moderation - The guidelines say people who chose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so in moderation. Alcohol supplies empty calories, and heavy drinking can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight and increase the risk of liver disease, hypertension and certain cancers. The recommendation is one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. That translates into a 12 ounce beer or a 5 ounce glass of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of spirits.