Eat Healthfully To Feel Your Best All Year Long

Elizabeth S. Reames, Merrill, Thomas A., LaFleur, Kara D.  |  12/22/2006 3:21:08 AM

News You Can Use Distributed 12/21/06

Healthful eating is key to looking good, feeling great and being your best all year long, stresses LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

"Many people become absorbed with thinking about dieting and their weight around the holidays or about the time they start making New Year’s resolutions," Reames said "But following a lifestyle that involves healthy eating all year long really is the important part."

Reames points out that millions of Americans turn to the latest fad diets to lose weight every year, but she stresses living a healthy lifestyle is about much more than dieting – and that food is essential to life.

"Foods provide the essential nutrients and other compounds the body needs for good health," the LSU AgCenter expert said. "The problem with most of the fad diets is that they do not provide lasting results."

Many of the latest diet crazes also can cause health problems or physical discomfort, Reames says.

"Instead of focusing on weight loss, the key is to concentrate on eating healthfully and exercising regularly," Reames said.

A healthy eating plan will help you consume a variety of foods to get the nutrients your body needs and maintain a healthy weight, according to Reames, who says to let your individual needs and preferences determine your personal food choices.

"Match your food choices to your lifestyle and individual requirements, choosing enough to achieve and maintain a healthy weight," she explained.

Reames also advises to plan meals and snacks using a variety of foods from the various food groups – making sure to include grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and meat and beans.

"Make healthy choices, such as lean meat, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables," she explained. "And choose a variety of foods from each group based on flavor, texture and colors to make it more interesting."

Reames stresses that choosing the right balance of foods helps you get the right combination of nutrients.

She also says to look at the "big picture" when selecting foods.

"It is what you eat over several days – not just one meal or one day – that counts," the nutritionist explained. "You can enjoy all your favorite foods, just eat them in moderate amounts."

To find information about the amounts of foods you need, go to www.MyPyramid.gov.

"It is important to balance your food choices with your physical activities to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle," Reames said, adding that you should be sure to enjoy a variety of ways to stay active to feel your best.

The federal Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day to reduce disease risk and 60 minutes a day to prevent weight gain. For sustaining weight loss, at least 60 minutes to 90 minutes a day of physical activity may be required.

For additional information about eating healthfully using MyPyramid or other aspects of achieving a healthy lifestyle, contact an agent in your parish’s LSU AgCenter Extension office.

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Contact: Beth Reames at (225) 578-1425 or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Kara LaFleur at (225) 578-2263 or klafleur@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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