What’s a healthier menu option? We have smart phone apps to count calories and Google to answer most questions. You may know the difference between good and bad carbs, and the general need to cut back on fats, added sugar and artificial sweeteners and that food taken from the earth is generally a healthier choice than food that has been processed, stripped down and put back together. For instance, steel cut oats are a more healthy choice, generally, than cereal from a box. Yet, many people still wonder, “What are the rules of thumb for healthier eating?”
The American obesity epidemic and how it’s connected to our food system makes the business of making healthy, sustainable and delicious food choices available to the public arguably one of the most complex social issues of our time. This topic was explored during the inaugural 2013 Menus of Change National Leadership Summit, where experts representing every link in America’s food chain produced a “State of the Plate” report outlining progress in the food industry’s efforts to improve nutrition, sustainability and profitability. Though not new ideas, here are some notes to remember:
Healthier diets include less trans fats, fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, less red meat, less artificial sweeteners, and generally smaller portion sizes.
Healthier diets include more whole fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes and vegetables (except potatoes), healthier oils, and more water.
Let’s address eating in real life terms. It’s important to put more of the good stuff in, and leave more of the bad stuff out (choose baked instead of fried, get salad dressing on the side, avoid empty calories such as those in alcohol). However, less of what we normally eat is a very easy way to begin. If you go out to eat, get a medium instead of a large combo…or get a small instead of a medium. Order from the kids’ menu when you can. Get a to-go-box at the beginning of the meal, and put part (even up to half) of your meal into it at the beginning of the meal for tomorrow’s dinner. Don’t eat the last bite of anything…or the last two bites…or three (you see where I’m going?) Just like exercise; start small and progress slowly. By decreasing, in very small increments, the amount of food eaten, the process of cutting back will happen very slowly and without seeming like a drastic change. For most of us, scaling back portion size will go a long way toward helping begin the journey toward a healthier body. Not only does is not feel like dieting, but it’s a method you can use the rest of your life.
Sally Windham is an ACE Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor. She lives in Blanco, and trains clients locally at Gem of the Hills and in Spring Branch at Family Fitness. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org