What's in season?
Improve your health while reducing your carbon footprint by choosing from Colorado's crop. What's in season this September? Apples, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, green beans, herbs, honeydew, lettuce, onions, peaches, pears, pinto beans, potatoes, pumpkins, raspberries, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon. Bon appetit!
Everyone prefers the bigger box of crayons; a color printer to black and white. Color adds more to life, and it's just, well, natural. It's also an easy way to better balance your diet.
Most people I know are committed to their healthy lifestyle through multiple forms of fitness. Eating healthy is something we all strive for, and is consistently part of my annual resolutions.
Although my intentions are good, they do not always translate into good habits. When it comes to shopping, planning a meal or grabbing a quick bite on the go, I know I could make better choices. The simple solution: Think color.
Call it a game, a challenge or an escape from boredom. It's as easy as flipping a coin. Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and fiber. These nutrients help us fight disease, control weight and energize the body.
Pam Wooster, a registered dietitian at Yampa Valley Medical Center, suggests staying away from your old standby.
"Try something new and different when you go out to eat or when buying produce," Wooster said. "Once a month, get out a cookbook and try a new recipe that calls for fruit or vegetables."
Color is the easy and fun part, but what about quantity? Fifteen years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with Produce for a Better Health Foundation (PBH) launched its "5 A Day" campaign to encourage citizens to eat a better diet fortified naturally thorough fruits and vegetables. September was established as "5 A Day Month." In spite of their efforts, the CDC and PBH say we are falling short.
The "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" recommends adults consume 3.5 to 6.5 cups (7 to 13 servings) of fruits and vegetables daily, and children eat 2 to 5 cups per day (4 to 10 servings) depending on their age. While research indicates that more than 50 percent of adults know they need to eat five or more servings per day, more than 90 percent do not eat the recommended amount.
In view of the new dietary guidelines increasing the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, in March 2007 the CDC renamed its message to encourage the public to take their health to a new level: "Fruits & Veggies - More Matters." This new call to action may inspire consumers to eat more fruits and veggies - fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice.
The Wellness Program at Yampa Valley Medical Center encourages healthy nutrition through the "Colorful Choices" program. Participants chart their color choices each day for 20 days. By the end of this period, the eating pattern will become habit. YVMC employees who participate can earn incentives.
"It's an easy and very visual way to make sure you eat healthy foods," said YVMC Wellness coordinator Lisa Bankard. "Participants keep track of the number of fruits and veggies they eat a day by marking in color-coded columns. A quick glance shows you how much more you need to consume to reach your goal."
Workplaces and schools can choose to play a proactive role by instituting their own programs. September is a great time as it is now Fruits & Veggies - More Matters Month. Create a challenge with your family, classroom, sports team or co-workers to eat more fruits and vegetables, in more color.
Start by visiting www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org and www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov. Both Web sites offer tips for adding more servings per day, cooking ideas and recipes, shopping and meal planning advice as well as a wealth of information about dietary guidelines and other resources.
Eating the rainbow - or rather everything under it - is a rewarding way to strive for optimum health.
Riley Polumbus is the communications specialist at Yampa Valley Medical Center