As National Nutrition Months comes to an end, the 5 things you can start doing to eat healthier!

Time and time again we have been told that going back to the basics of nutrition IS the healthiest action to take when dealing with health issues.

The fact is -- and all of our speakers have at some point concluded -- that poor nutrition leads to poor health:  cancer, diabetes and heart health leading the list.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, unhealthy eating and inactivity account for almost half a million deaths per year (1)

Even though there are general guidelines on nutritional values, there are marked differences between the effects on nutrition between men and women.  There are many variables that affect our nutrition-- our health, our age, what we do for a living and even our own bodies – and recommendations on healthy eating and the amount of nutrients vary accordingly.

Eating healthy is more about discipline; learning to eat healthy food and teaching our family the value of nutrition.   But the one question worth analyzing is if the society we live in conducive to healthy eating?

It seems that we are always in a hurry. As women, most of us have the habit of taking care of others before ourselves.  As parents, we seem to be overwhelmed with all the required activities and demands of our kids.  As professionals, we have learned to work hard and sometimes too much; giving work a priority over family and health with the excuse of getting ahead and the fear of failing.   And half the time we don’t understand how to interpret the nutrition labels in our food – it’s like requiring a bachelor’s degree to even pronounce the ingredients listed!    Organic is great, but greater is the cost!

So where is the balance?  How do we juggle everything-or anything- that we have going on in our lives?

Some great ideas on the importance of healthy eating and reducing inflammation can be found at Dr. Bonakdar's presentation on Nutrition. Additionally, the Office of Women’s Health has the following suggestion for eating at home, going out for dinner and additional resources to make the right choices when deciding about nutritional meals (2):

At Home:

  • Fry foods with a little bit of olive oil rather than butter, margarine, or lots of vegetable oil.
  • Use canola oil when baking.
  • Prepare fish such as salmon or mackerel twice a week.
  • Sprinkle slivered nuts or sunflower seeds on your salads instead of bacon bits.
  • Eat Canadian bacon or lean ham instead of bacon.
  • Try low-fat frozen yogurt instead of regular ice cream.
  • Eat broiled, baked, roasted, or grilled chicken without the skin instead of fried chicken.
  • Add lettuce, tomato, and other vegetables, rather than cheese, to your sandwiches.
  • Eat extra lean ground beef (5% fat) instead of regular ground beef (25% fat).
  • Try whole-wheat tortillas instead of regular flour tortillas.
  • Try whole-wheat or multigrain bread instead of white bread.
  • Try low-fat, low-sodium crackers instead of regular crackers.
  • Eat water-packed rather than oil-packed tuna.
  • Use mustard, catsup, or low-fat mayonnaise on your sandwiches instead of regular mayonnaise.
  • Try making sandwiches with 95% to 97% fat-free lunch meats.
  • Use lemon juice, herb vinegar, or reduced-calorie salad dressings on your salads.
  • Choose non-hydrogenated peanut butter. You can tell that it's nonhydrogenated if there's some oil on top of the peanut butter. Hydrogenated peanut butter is all solid at room temperature.
  • Eat lower-fat cookies, such as graham crackers or fig bars.
  • Choose canned fruits packed in water rather than syrup.
  • Eating out
  • In any restaurant:
  • Ask for salad dressing, gravy, or sauce on the side and use sparingly.
  • Choose main dishes that are broiled, baked, roasted, or grilled, instead of deep-fried or pan-fried.
  • Don't be afraid to make special requests, such as asking that something be cooked with less fat.

When ordering a sandwich:

  • Add lettuce and tomato.
  • Ask for whole-wheat or rye bread.
  • Choose mustard instead of mayonnaise.

At Chinese restaurants:

  • Have brown rice instead white rice.
  • Order a side dish of steamed broccoli.

At fast food places:

  • Order smaller burgers. Skip the cheese and bacon.
  • Order a grilled chicken sandwich.
  • Order garden or grilled chicken salads with low-fat dressings.
  • Choose water or low-fat milk instead of regular soda.

At pizza places:

  • Ask for vegetable toppings, such as mushrooms or peppers, rather than meat toppings.
  • Get whole-wheat crust.
  • Request half the cheese.
  • Eat a salad with low-fat dressing in place of a slice of pizza

So as we approach the weekend and let your hair down, mind your eating, indulge with a healthy dessert and have fun!  Additional Resources can be found here:

(1)    http://www.cspinet.org/nutritionpolicy/nutrition_policy.html#eat
(2)http://www.womenshealth.gov/fitness-nutrition/how-to-eat-for-health/improving-your-food-choices.html

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About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:

The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is committed to keeping the women we love healthy, advancing women’s health through research and educating women to be catalysts for improving family health in the community. The organization does so by funding scholarships to scientists researching issues affecting women’s health;   providing a forum for medical experts, scientists, doctors, researchers, and authors to convey the timely information on topics relevant to women’s health and the health of their families through its Lecture and Evening Series, and by funding research initiatives that will create women’s health awareness and advocacy in the community.    

For more information about the Doris A. Howell Foundation, please visit www.howellfoundation.org. 

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