Healthy Eating Best Diet Says LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/21/2005 9:22:14 PM

News You Can Use For January 2005

It’s important to follow a healthy eating plan, because improper dieting can rob your body of the nutrients and energy it needs, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

"The Food Guide Pyramid offers a healthy approach to eating," Reames says, noting, "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."

Scientists who recently served on the Dietary Guidelines committee emphasized 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 committee recommended 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 at least 30 minutes every day.

Convened by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, the committee was asked to review and recommend changes to the 2000 Dietary Guidelines. Their recommendations will form the foundation for the new 2005 Dietary Guidelines.

The Dietary Guidelines committee recommends 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.

Reames explains to choose whole-grain products from the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group, such as 100 percent whole-wheat bread, brown rice or oatmeal. 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.

Reames says eating the smallest recommended number of servings from each food group, without added fat or sugar, will provide about 1,400 calories. Most women and older adults need only 1,600 calories. She adds that, in general, kids, teen girls, active women and most men need 2,200 calories per day, and teen boys and active men can use 2,800 calories daily.

The nutritionist offers these 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, 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 the Food Guide Pyramid and nutrition facts information on food labels to learn serving sizes.

• Try to eat at least three servings of vegetables, and two servings of 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 risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, joint problems, obesity and others. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, such as walking, gardening, raking or even dancing.

For additional information about healthy eating, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. For information on related nutrition, family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or

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