Elizabeth S. Reames | 12/22/2005 3:31:06 AM
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize that no matter the source – whether carbohydrate, fat or protein – calories do count when it comes to weight management.
Instead of following fad diets, the best way to attain and maintain a healthy weight is to stay within your energy needs by choosing foods wisely from within all food groups and to be physically active, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
"It is important to follow a healthy eating plan, because dieting can rob your body of the nutrients and energy it needs," the nutritionist says.
The USDA’s "MyPyramid" (MyPyramid.gov) offers a healthy approach to eating, Reames adds. "It provides guidance on choosing the recommended servings from each food group. It helps you develop a healthy eating plan you can follow for a lifetime."
The Dietary Guidelines recommend eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk products. Recent research shows that these health-promoting foods are poorly represented in the American diet.
"Be sure to choose whole-grain products such as 100 percent whole-wheat bread, brown rice or oatmeal," Reames advises, adding, "Eat fresh fruit or fruit canned or frozen without sugar. Steam vegetables or eat them raw. Select nonfat or low-fat dairy products and lean meat and poultry without skin."
She says a lifestyle change in diet and physical activity is the best first choice for weight loss. The Dietary Guidelines recommend a reduction in 500 calories or more a day. The healthiest way to reduce calorie intake is to reduce intake of added sugars, fats and alcohol, which all provide calories but few or no essential nutrients.
Reames offers several tips to establish a healthy relationship with food.
– Drop the diet mentality. Depriving yourself now can make you overeat later.
– Learn to recognize your body’s cues about when you are hungry and when you are full.
– Tune into your emotions. Are you using food for comfort, as a reward, as a distraction from boredom or to help resolve feelings of anger or sadness? If so, look for other ways of coping with problems instead of eating, such as taking a walk, playing with your pet or calling a friend.
– Don’t skip meals. This leads to overeating later.
– Eat portions of foods, not helpings. Use MyPyramid and nutrition facts information on food labels to learn serving sizes.
– Try to eat more vegetables and fruits each day. Experiment with new ways to prepare vegetables, and keep cut-up veggies in the refrigerator for snacking.
– In addition to these ideas about healthy eating, Reames advises making a habit of becoming more physically active. Physical activity offers many health benefits including decreased risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, joint problems, obesity and others.
The Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity to reduce disease risk and 60 minutes a day to prevent weight gain. For sustaining weight loss, at least 60 to 90 minutes a day of physical activity may be required.
For additional information about eating healthfully using MyPyramid, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
For related nutrition information, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter home page, at www.lsuagcenter.com.