Steamboat Springs Because March is National Nutrition Month, this is a perfect time to evaluate your eating and exercise habits. This year's motto, "Start Today for a Healthier Tomorrow," focuses on healthy habits that can affect your health in the long term.
For example, if you've been thinking about taking off some of the weight you've gained over the winter, not only will you be able to fit into your shorts this summer, but also you can avoid some of the health problems associated with being overweight. These problems include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder disease, arthritis, some types of cancer and even some lung problems.
How do you know if you are eating healthy? How do you know how much fat you should be eating? Are you eating enough fiber? What can you do to lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes?
Start with looking at the Food Guide Pyramid. This recommends daily consumption of:
Six to 11 servings from the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group.
Three to five servings of vegetables.
Two to four servings of fruits.
Two to three servings from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts group.
Two to three servings from the milk, yogurt and cheese group.
If your diet closely resembles the food guide pyramid, you're on the right track. Many of my clients report they do not eat the recommended servings of vegetables each day. One serving is one-half cup of cooked vegetables or one cup raw vegetables. Vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber and contain vitamins and minerals.
Participants in the THINKLIGHT! program at Yampa Valley Medical Center are learning how to "Start Today for a Healthier Tomorrow." This lowfat living plan teaches individuals how to adopt a healthy lifestyle by offering practical tools that make it easier to change eating and activity habits. "I'm learning to let go some of my guilt surrounding food," said AlidaLee Gingerich, a nurse at the medical center and program participant. "I know I can have a cookie and it is OK, as long as most of the time I follow a healthy, balanced diet. That way, I will stop at one cookie and not have several more because I am thinking that I blew my diet anyway."
The THINKLIGHT! program discourages the all-or-nothing attitude that focuses on dieting and labeling foods as good or bad. Instead, the concept of "wandering" is used to describe a deviation from a healthy eating plan, which is normal and expected, versus the concept of cheating on your diet.
By using this term instead of "cheating," participants learn not to pass judgment on themselves.
While the theme for National Nutrition Month is to start today for a healthy tomorrow, this is a good way to live year-round. Whether you need to lose weight, stop smoking, become more physically active or lower your stress level, if you start today by making healthy choices, you will live a healthier tomorrow.
Start with one new healthy behavior change at a time. For example, try eating an extra serving of vegetables or walk to work instead of driving.
Once you've succeeded at changing one behavior, try adding another healthy behavior change. It is never too late to improve your health, and March is a good time to begin.
Carol Mahoney, R.D., is a registered dietitian on staff at Yampa Valley Medical Center and a member of the American Dietetic Association.
Editor's note: This Monday Medical column was inadvertently omitted from Steamboat Today this week and is being reprinted today.