Barbara Burke

Good For You

By Barbara Burke

Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Bring healthy eating
into new year

NEW Year's resolutions take on a special significance as we approach the new millennium. What eating habits will you take into Y2K? Which ones do you hope to leave behind? Here are suggestions from some of the nation's leading nutritionists:

Eat low on the food chain by consuming more fruits and vegetables and fewer animal product, say the editors of Columbia University's "Food & Fitness Advisor." Add variety to your diet since different fruits and vegetables have their own unique set of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Minimize potentially harmful additives by choosing natural and whole foods over artificial or processed foods. Eat more whole grains, such as brown rice and breads made with whole wheat flour. Limit total and saturated fat intake and, when possible, opt for "good" fats -- monounsaturated, alpha-linolenic acid, or omega-3.

Instead of popping supplements to help prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals, eat a serving of fruits or vegetables. A recent study at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University measured the antioxidant power of common foods. Among the top scorers: kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli flowers, beets, red peppers, prunes, raisins, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, red grapes and kiwis.

ACCORDING to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 40 percent of the American food budget is spent on food away from home. What is fast, easy and cheap may not be good for your health, however, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Meals purchased outside the home are typically higher in total and saturated fat and contain less fiber, iron and calcium than meals we make at home. Look for lowfat options when eating out. And, pay particular attention to portion size. A typical restaurant-size serving of pasta may equal four USDA-recommended servings.

"People need to eat less," says Marion Nestle, Ph.D., chairwoman of New York University's Department of Nutrition and Food Studies. One in five Americans is obese. From the late '70s to the mid-'90s, men began eating an extra 200 calories and women about an extra 100 calories daily. What's more, these self-reported intakes are probably significantly underestimated.

Two-thirds of Americans are trying to lose weight or keep from gaining weight, according to the editors of "Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter." Only about 20 percent of these individuals use the recommended combination of eating fewer calories and exercising 30 minutes at least five times a week. It is estimated that more than one-third make the mistake of consuming less fat without paying attention to total calorie consumption.

TUFTS' editors suggest the following strategies for losing weight while you follow a sound weight loss program:

Bullet Believe that you can lose weight. Use positive feedback. Find out what helped other people successfully lose and keep off weight.

Bullet Prepare for some deprivation. There is often an initial period of uncomfortableness, but you can adjust.

Bullet Drink fewer calories. Soda, juices, sports drinks, alcohol, and specialty coffees and teas can be high in calories. Drink water and lowfat milk instead.

Bullet Exercise. It doesn't have to be vigorous, just consistent.

Bullet Be patient. Choose safe, eating habits that you can live with for a lifetime. Making small changes works well, but it may take longer to lose weight.

Bullet Monitor yourself. Keep track of your weight by weighing yourself regularly, whether it be once a day, once a week or once a month.

Health Events

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor
who has been teaching and writing about food
and nutrition since 1975.

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