Healthy Food Choices

Eating healthy is something we all would like to do,  although it can be hard. In order to eat healthy, you must first make the right food choices. Eating healthy is all about what you eat, which makes the choices very crucial to your results.

Grains

You should consume 6 ounces of grains per day. To do this, you can eat 3 ounces of whole grain cereals, breads, rice,
crackers, or pasta. You can get an ounce of grains in  a single slice of bread, or 1 cut of cereal.

Vegetables
These should be varied, as you should eat 2 1/2 cups of them each day. You should start eating more of the dark
vegetables, such as broccili and spinach. Carrots and sweet potatoes are good as well. You should also eat more dry beans such as peas, pinto beans, and even kidney beans.

Fruits

Fruits are very important. You should try to eat 2 cups of them each day. Focus on eating a variety, such as  fresh, frozen, canned, or even dried fruit. You can  drink fruit juices as well, although you should use  moderation when doing so.

Milk

Milk is your calcium rich friend. For adults, 3 cups is the ideal goal. For kids 2 – 8, 2 cups is where you want to be. When choosing milk products or yogurt, you should go for fat-free or low-fat. Those of you who don’t like milk or can’t have it, should go for lactose free products or other sources of calcium such as fortified foods and beverages.

Meat and beans

Eating 5 ounces a day is the ideal goal, as you should go lean with your protein. When eating meat, always bake it,
grill it, or broil it, as this will prevent grease from  adding to the equation. You should vary your protein  as well, with more fish, beans, peas, and nuts.

When cooking your food, you should also limit solid fats such as butter, margarine, shortening, and lard. These foods may add flavor to your dishes, although they can also help raise your cholesterol as well. Therefore, you should try to add these foods and any foods that happen to contain them.

To help keep your saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium low, you can check the nutrition facts label. This label can be found on the food package and will tell you all the information you need to know about the food item.

By picking your foods wisely and watching what you eat, you’ll help control your lifestyle. Exercise is great as well, as it goes along perfect with a healthy eating lifestyle. No matter what your age may be, eating healthy will help you keep your active lifestyle for years and years – even help you and your health in the long run as well.

 

What Foods Make Us Healthy?

The foods of the food pyramid are necessary for our optimal health.  But in what quantities and which ones are the best?  These are questions that must be tailored to our individual needs.  So must the answer to what foods make us healthy be a unique one.  Healthy for me, is not the same as healthy for you.  Everyone’s nutritional needs are different, and everyone’s level of calorie consumption is different.

We can examine some of the better foods, and offer advice as to what particular formulas make us the healthiest on average. The average person needs an hour of physical exercise, six to eleven servings of grains, two to four servings of fruit, three to five servings of vegetables, two to three servings of meat, two to three servings of milk, and enough water to make it all work.

This could be the formula for an eighty year old man, or a fifteen year old girl. The recommended daily calorie intake is just as vague and generalized as the daily food intake pyramid. Can you see how this might not work for either one?  When a guideline published is this general, it is up to the individual to determine what food regimen will keep them at their healthiest, and then implement such a plan.

According to the guides published by the USDA, calorie needs vary from one age group to another, one gender to another.  So how do you determine what your individual needs are?  You can setup a journal for recording your daily caloric intake for about a month.  Make a note of your weight each day.  If you don’t gain any weight during the course of that month, you’re eating your recommended calorie level in order to maintain your weight.  Now, take that calorie information, check with a nutritionist about the recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals that you need.  Take both pieces of information, calorie intake and nutritional requirements, use the food pyramid and comprise a combination of foods that will help you achieve these recommended daily intakes, and still be enjoyable food. You now have an individualized healthy eating plan.

What those foods might be, are entirely dependent upon the unique guideline you have just established.  This guide will not work for Cousin Bob, or Aunt Tilley, but it is the unique blueprint for you.  It is at this point in the process that we seem to lack the direction or the discipline to finish what the government started.  Maybe we need to incorporate these techniques into a class taught at school.  Maybe this would give our young people the direction and tools they need in order to begin such a process, make it a lifetime habit, and pass it along to their children.

Once the importance of a particular food is understood by us, it is a simple as learning our multiplication tables.  We simply memorize the benefit, and incorporate it into our daily intake as needed.  As you take the time to incorporate a healthy food plan, don’t’ forget the necessity of exercise in our daily lives.  In order to keep our bodies healthy and functioning off of healthy food, we need to keep it fit.  This comes through proper amounts of exercise.

Less Food A Healthier You

The foods of the food pyramid are necessary for our optimal health.  But in what quantities and which ones are the best?  These are questions that must be tailored to our individual needs.  And the answers will benefit our unique needs.  Healthy for me, is not the same as healthy for you.  Everyone’s nutritional needs are different, and everyone’s level of calorie consumption is different

As you study the food pyramid published by the USDA, we can examine some of the better foods, and try to decide what particular formulas make us the healthiest on average. The average person needs an hour of physical exercise, six to eleven servings of grains, two to four servings of fruit, three to five servings of vegetables, two to three servings of meat, two to three servings of milk, and enough water to make it all work.

The guidelines found on the general chart of the pyramid are as listed above, and this could be the formula for an eighty year old man, or a fifteen year old girl. The recommended daily calorie intake is just as vague and generalized as the daily food intake pyramid. Can you see how this might not work for either one?  When a guideline published is this general, it is up to the individual to determine what food regimen will keep them at their healthiest, provide the caloric intake necessary, but not excessive.

If your goal is to cut calorie consumption, you would be among the latest wave of health conscious individuals who believe that a low calorie intake keeps us in our healthiest condition.  There have been studies done with rats that lend credibility to this claim.  Lowering the rat’s body weight by only 10% yielded a longer life; longer life spans were noted for up to a 30% cut in daily calorie intake.  Anything past that point produced unhealthy consequences.  Now, exactly how this translates into human life spans, we’re not sure.

Once the importance of a particular food plan is understood by us, it is a simple as learning our multiplication tables.  We simply memorize the food requirements, and incorporate it into our daily intake as needed.  As you take the time to incorporate a healthy food plan, don’t’ forget the necessity of exercise in our daily lives.  In order to keep our bodies healthy and functioning as expected, we need to keep it fit.  This comes through proper amounts of exercise

According to the guides published by the USDA, calorie needs vary from one age group to another, one gender to another.  So how do you determine what your individual needs are?  You can setup a journal for recording your daily caloric intake for about a month.  Make a note of your weight each day.  If you don’t gain any weight during the course of that month, you’re eating your recommended calorie level in order to maintain your weight.  Now, take that calorie information, use the food pyramid and comprise a combination of foods that will help you achieve this recommended daily intake, and still be enough to be filling and please the palette. You now have an individualized healthy eating plan for weight maintenance.  To produce a reduction in body weight, simply begin to cut calorie intake, without cutting too much from the daily recommended servings.

This guide will not work for Brother Bill or Sister Sue, but it is the unique blueprint for you.  It is at this point in the process that we seem to lack the direction to finish what the government started.  Whatever the formula, your food intake and level of calorie content, will affect your general overall health everyday.  Overeating can bring on obesity, under eating can bring about anemia; you need to find that one right guide for you, and plan, plan, plan.

How to Eat Right in 10 Minutes

It’s Thursday afternoon, you have thirty minutes to get from work, go by the house and pickup Heath, Jamie’s already at basketball practice, oh, and what about dinner?  Does this scenario seem familiar?  If you’re a working Mom, I can promise that it is a familiar scene.

So how do you make healthy food choices, when you only have fifteen minutes to prepare your meals?  Well, the first thing you should realize is that quite often, healthy choices do not necessarily equate to two hour meals.  You can make healthy food choices that are as quick to prepare or pickup as the unhealthy ones.

For example, sub sandwiches are a healthier alternative than pizza or burger and fries, but do not really take any longer to pickup.  Salads can be prepared in just a few short minutes, and provide for the necessary vegetable daily requirement.  Don’ care for the usual salad?  Make a Waldorf or fruit salad, either way you’ve changed it up a bit, and still provided a health choice.  As for the dressing, oil based or vinegar based dressings are much better for you than the cream based, and are really more tasteful.

Okay, suppose salads aren’t what your kids like.   What about other prepared foods that are also healthy foods?  Healthy Choice is a brand of frozen entrees or meals that take only a few minutes in the microwave to prepare, and are still healthy alternatives.  Baked rather than fried is always a better choice, and many supermarkets today offer baked products fresh from their bakery, ready to go.

Still aren’t satisfied?  You want a place to go and actually sit down and eat. There are still many healthy alternatives for a family when going to eat at a restaurant.  Restaurants that offer buffet style meals are great choices.  Thanks to many of the health conscious consumers out there, buffets have added baked, broiled, and fresh food choices to the display.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are usually always available on food bars, along with broiled or steamed vegetables.  Meats are just about as varied, with many of the choices being offered in a fried and baked option. And if you’re up for dessert, watermelons and grapes are just as satisfying as the Boston cream pie.

You can always throw up objections when it comes to healthy eat, the real trick is in realizing it’s your body that will suffer.  Or your children that will suffer from the unhealthy choices you make.  Why not start with healthy options, set the right example, and you will have children that make health conscious intelligent decisions about their eat.

Okay, now back to our Thursday afternoon juggling act.  You’ve dropped Heath at baseball practice, picked Jamie up from basketball, and you have exactly fifteen minutes to make a decision about dinner.  As you sit at the red-light contemplating your options, there is a Subway, a Pizza Hut, and a grocery store with a deli in the same shopping center.  How can this still be a difficult choice to make?

 

How Much is Enough?

As you study the food pyramid published by the USDA, we can examine some of the better foods, and try to decide what particular formulas make us the healthiest on average. The average person needs an hour of physical exercise, six to eleven servings of grains, two to four servings of fruit, three to five servings of vegetables, two to three servings of meat, two to three servings of milk, and enough water to make it all work.

The foods of the food pyramid are necessary for our optimal health.  But in what quantities and which ones are the best?  These are questions that must be tailored to our individual needs.  And the answers will benefit our unique needs.  Healthy for me, is not the same as healthy for you.  Everyone’s nutritional needs are different, and everyone’s level of calorie consumption is different.

The guidelines found on the general chart of the pyramid are as listed above, and this could be the formula for an eighty year old man, or a fifteen year old girl. The recommended daily calorie intake is just as vague and generalized as the daily food intake pyramid. Can you see how this might not work for either one?  When a guideline published is this general, it is up to the individual to determine what food regimen will keep them at their healthiest, provide the caloric intake necessary, but not excessive.

According to the guides published by the USDA, calorie needs vary from one age group to another, one gender to another.  So how do you determine what your individual needs are?  You can setup a journal for recording your daily caloric intake for about a month.  Make a note of your weight each day.  If you don’t gain any weight during the course of that month, you’re eating your recommended calorie level in order to maintain your weight.  Now, take that calorie information, use the food pyramid and comprise a combination of foods that will help you achieve this recommended daily intake, and still be enough to be filling and please the palette. You now have an individualized healthy eating plan.

Once the importance of a particular food plan is understood by us, it is a simple as learning our multiplication tables.  We simply memorize the food requirements, and incorporate it into our daily intake as needed.  As you take the time to incorporate a healthy food plan, don’t’ forget the necessity of exercise in our daily lives.  In order to keep our bodies healthy and functioning as expected, we need to keep it fit.  This comes through proper amounts of exercise

This guide will not work for Cousin Kelly, or Aunt Tilley, but it is the unique blueprint for you.  It is at this point in the process that we seem to lack the direction to finish what the government started.  Maybe we need to incorporate these techniques into a class taught at school.  Maybe this would give our young people the direction and tools they need in order to begin such a process, make it a lifetime habit, and pass it along to their children.  Whatever the formula, your food intake and level of calorie content, will affect your general overall health everyday.  Overeating can bring on obesity, under eating can bring about anemia; you need to find that one right guide for you, and plan, plan, plan.

Healthy, Great Tasting Food Alternatives

The next time you visit the grocery store, take the time to stop by the produce section.  Instead of searching the snack cake aisle for your children’s snacks, try an apple, or orange, or banana.

Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start.  There are so many choices in the filed of fruits and vegetables, that being picky isn’t even a consideration here. It does not matter where your location, the time of the year, or the method of preparation, there are fruits and vegetables to suit the most discriminating taste

The choices in fruits and vegetables run the gamut in color preference, leafy versus compact, fresh and raw, or freshly picked and cooked.  There are fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids, anti-oxidants, or just plain high in flavor.

What about as a snack?  Do fruits and vegetables meet the snack requirement for taste?  We already know that they’re good for us, but if we’re going to snack, we want something that tastes really good.

There are fruits and vegetables that fill the bill, quite successfully.  What about celery?  Celery with pimento or peanut butter is quite delicious.  Or, you have the broccoli and cauliflower combination with ranch dip.  That’s a healthy alternative that any other snack would be hard pressed to surpass.  In the fruit section, you have so many snack choices it would require you to spend hours debating which one is best.  Apples, oranges, mangos, bananas, peaches and pears, and this just begins the list.

Exotic vegetables from Asian countries, tried and true vegetables from the backyard, or the latest from the Farmer’s market, the choices can seem at times overwhelming.  We should never run out of new recipes to try, new dishes to put before our families and friends, or just simply to fix and eat for our own enjoyment.

Summertime brings a rich bounty of vegetable choices, so many in fact, that most people preserve some in canning, freezing, and pickling.  As a child growing up in the south, summertime meant fresh vegetables straight from the garden.  Fresh peas, corn, and tomatoes on the dinner table with cornbread is a feast fit for a king!  I will have to admit here, that cornbread would not be the healthiest choice in bread, but it’s unbeatable in the taste department.

What about wintertime?  Thanks to greenhouse growers, and improved methods for winter crops, we now have many choices for fruit and vegetable consumption even during the winter months.  Soups and stews that abound during the colder weather are filled with wonderful vegetables to add just the right flavor and texture to a snowy, cold afternoon.

Generally, if you mention having a healthy alternative to that sugary snack, or calorie laden burger for a meal, the looks you receive would be enough to wither.  But healthy alternatives can be really good.  They can provide wonderful taste as well as healthy appeal

So, you see, healthy alternative doesn’t equate to a lack of taste, or zestful appeal.  Healthy alternative just means that while we’re enjoying the wonderful Cobb salad, we can also delight in the fact that we did a double whammy, good and good for you!

Fruit, Vegetables and Health

As a teen, most of us don’t even care if we’re eating right, or begin to understand the implications of poor eating habits.  As we age, however, we do begin to notice the effects of improper exercise, poor eating habits, and how they affect our health.  Today, as the baby boomers begin their retirement years, health concerns and questions are on the rise.  These aging boomers are more concerned than any previous generations about their good health, their ability to keep their good health, and how their diet affects their health.

The easiest place to affect our health is through our eating habits; in fact it’s the most effective solution to better health, sharing the spotlight with exercise.  What about our food intake?  What choices do we have to make eating a healthier occurrence?

Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start.  There are so many choices in the filed of fruits and vegetables, that being picky isn’t even a consideration here. It does not matter where your location, the time of the year, or the method of preparation, there are fruits and vegetables to suit the most discriminating taste

The choices in fruits and vegetables run the gamut in color preference, leafy versus compact, fresh and raw, or freshly picked and cooked.  There are fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids, anti-oxidants, or just plain high in flavor.

What about as a snack?  Do fruits and vegetables meet the snack requirement for taste?  We already know that they’re good for us, but if we’re going to snack, we want something that tastes really good.

There are fruits and vegetables that fill that bill, quite successfully.  What about celery?  Celery with pimento or peanut butter is quite delicious.  Or, you have the broccoli and cauliflower combination with ranch dip.  That’s a snack that any other snack would be hard pressed to surpass.  In the fruit section, you have so many snack choices it would require you to spend hours debating which one is best.  Apples, oranges, mangos, bananas, peaches and pears, and this just begins the list.

One of a southerner’s favorite snacks would be baked sweet potato.  Now, this is normally consumed with large amounts of butter, but doesn’t have to be, in order to be good.  The baked sweet potato can simply be peeled and eaten straight from the oven and it’s still delicious.

Back in the fruit section, you still haven’t covered plums, grapes, raisins, watermelons, cantaloupes, or honey dews.  My, my, I didn’t realize there were so many.

We haven’t even discussed fruit options that would require us to cook.  These are just the fresh and raw options available, most year round.  By the time you run the gamut with these ideas, you should be ready to start all over at the beginning.

You should have enough options now for snacking, that healthful snacking can become a standard, not an exception for you.  These ideas do not by any means encompass all options; these are just simply the most popular local favorites if you live in the South and in Alabama.

Eating Habits: What We Learn as We Live

It’s 7:00 am, and you’re late for work.  You decide to just simply skip breakfast, and have a snack later, around mid-morning.  Your kids decide they don’t want breakfast, either.

Lunchtime arrives and you’re just not that hungry.  Maybe a quick snack bar, a diet soda, and back to work.  Do you ever wonder what your kids are eating for lunch?  Have they come to the same conclusion?

Alright, time to prepare dinner, and time is short.  You have three places to be in order to get everybody to practice, pickup the cleaning, and then on home.  On the way to the cleaners you realize dinner is going to be a lite one if you fix what you have at home. Where to stop?  How about pizza and soda?  Or maybe the kids would like burgers and fries.  While you try to decide what to provide for dinner, the kids have finished practice and they’re starving.  The gym has a food dispenser for snacks and sodas, and so they load up on candy bars and coke.

It’s 6:45 pm and you’ve made the last stop on the child pickup train.  Everybody’s loaded up and ready to go home. You’ve decided to stop for pizza, already called your order in, and it’s ready when you stop by.

Have you ever stopped to ponder why you eat the way you do?  Where did those habits develop from?  Do we learn these habits as we grow up?  That’s exactly where we learn them.  Then we just improve upon them as we age.  As the demands of really hectic lives intrude upon our mealtime, we simply skip meals, compact meals, or choose the quickest alternative.

These food habits are not lost on our children either.  They take note of our food habits, just like they do our hygiene habits, our work habits, and our exercise habits.  They will generally follow right along behind us parents.  What is it we say to them, “good habits are just as easy as bad”?

What we should absorb as we travel along life’s daily path is a way to incorporate healthy habits into our lifestyle.  There is generally just as much room for healthy as there is unhealthy, it just so happens that unhealthy holds more appeal.

Unhealthy receives more advertising dollars than healthy, and is often more visible.  But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier, more convenient, or cheaper.  Habits, generally take about two weeks to make the switch from conscious action to unconscious habit.  Two weeks is not long, it’s not long at all for decisions that will affect you for the rest of your life.  It’s also not long for the potential reward that comes from setting an example your children can follow, and you can be proud for them to follow. You teach them daily about the good habits you want them to develop, and then you demonstrate a bad one in your food choices.  C’mon, mom and dad, let’s practice what we preach.

Advertising vs. Good  Eating Habits

I know we talk a lot about the effect of our eating habits on our general health, what we don’t mention is the effect television and advertising have had on our eating habits.  Until the advent of television, people simply ate what was available in their locality for them to eat.  Thanks to television, the demand for a product meant that the grocery had to find the product and have it delivered to his location.  But it happened, and continues to happen today.

All day long, adults and children are bombarded with television, radio, newspaper, and billboard advertising that will affect what they choose to eat, when they choose to eat, and how they choose to eat.  Good eating habits are difficult to find, and even harder to instill in our children.

Thanks to Saturday morning cartoons, and all those cereal commercials, we have a whole generation of children who grew up on cereal and pop-tarts.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think it’s bad to eat those things, but when you restrict your diet to only those kinds of food, it is bad.

The effect of advertising on our eating habits is such big business, that companies spend billions on advertising budgets each year.  If you are one of the lucky ones to hit upon the “catchy” idea of the month, you are quite a bit richer at the end of the journey. This is a concept many people don’t seem to understand. Those companies aren’t doing that advertising because they’re concerned with your health.  They’re doing it because they’re concerned with making a profit.

Consider the Super bowl games every year.  Companies spend billions of dollars for the opportunity to advertise with a 30-second spot.  But you know what they stand to gain? Increased sales for an entire year, because the vast majority of America watches the Super bowl; they also see the commercials.  It’s a huge game of hit or miss, but if you hit, you’re a major winner.

The cereal industry is one of the major players in the advertising game.  When it comes to influencing our eating habits, everyone should take lessons from Kellogg.  Another big player used to be Campbell’s soups.  Today we have so many vying for the piece of the food pie, that it’s hard to name a super advertiser.

When do the advertisers attempt to reach the consumer?  The prime time for advertising is during what’s called prime time viewing. From around 6pm until 10pm each and every night, most of America is in front of their television set, and tuned into the latest hit TV show.  They’re also tuned into the latest advertising influences.

Don’t misunderstand, it’s not just the food advertisers that do this to consumers, every car manufacturer in the world uses the same advertising principles to sell huge volumes of cars.  Beer companies the world over have advertised and made millions appealing to the consumers sense of “cool”.

Who suffers?  The consumers who are not educated with the knowledge of the real facts that affect their health are the real losers in the advertising game.  Most of the time, it is our young audience that pays the highest price, for they are the least knowledgeable.  This is a huge contributor to the obesity issues faces our young people today.

The ABC’s of Eating

The ABC’s of Eating would be a great title for an education course that addresses all of the food groups, the benefits and detriments of those groups and how to ascertain what our individual needs are from each category.

That doesn’t seem like such a difficult concept, but do you see any class being taught that addresses those issues?  No, and more than likely you won’t.  Because our society doesn’t feel like it is an issue that should be addressed by our education system.

Let me put this proposition before you, however.  Has there always been an evident need to learn to drive?  No, driving wasn’t around until the turn of the 20th century.  Driving is included in the education system, and taught as a matter of course each year.  The need to be educated in the ability to drive is relatively new, and is not one of the “old world” school topics, but it’s included because a need developed.

Education about our eating is a need that has developed over the last 30 years, and has now reached epidemic portions. Advertisements about our eating choices are driven by the need to make a profit.  The commercials our children are watching have nothing to do with their real nutritional needs, or the foods that actually are good for them to consume.  Here is where the educational process should bridge the gap.  Just as our education system teaches our children how to count, read, and write, they should teach them about their eating habits.  We educate our children because knowledge is power.  It provides them with the power they need to make good decisions, acquire jobs, create new products and processes, and to live out their lives as they see fit.  Shouldn’t they also have a basic knowledge of how to utilize the food resources around them?

Teaching and educating about the basics of the food groups, how they work with your body, the metabolic process of digesting those foods, how the body uses and stores energy, and how to keep all those processes working at optimal levels is as important as understanding the algebraic theorems  and how they apply to our ability to perform mathematically.  Determining just where in the education realm that such a class would fit is another matter.  Members of the educational system will probably tell you that it simply isn’t a matter of concern for the school system, that it is an issue best addressed at home.  But how can it be addressed at home, if the person at home has no knowledge to impart?  We don’t just acquire the knowledge needed for intelligent food consumption with the birth of our children.

The basic food groups and what foods fall into each category is a topic lightly addressed during the health classes taught at our middle schools.  But what about the metabolic process of digesting those foods, the interaction of the food, the nutrients, and our energy needs? Knowing how to differentiate between what foods will provide both energy, nutrients, and good taste is a learned knowledge.  Do you suppose children would continue to stuff something in their mouth if we addressed the consumption of Twinkies in the same way we do dirt?