Hooray! National Nutrition Month is here!
Hmmm… I don’t hear you cheering.
Each year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics chooses a theme to design a campaign around. The intent: to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
This year’s theme is Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.
Consumer research confirms that TASTE tops NUTRITION as the main reason why one food is purchased over another. The Academy says while social, emotional and health factors also play a role, the foods people enjoy are likely the ones they eat the most.
The focus is on combining taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that follow the Dietary Guidelines recommendations.
Weight loss happens one day at a time, one choice at a time, so enjoy the taste of eating right! This fits in perfectly with my personal philosophy when it comes to weight loss. Instead of a “diet,” – which many people think translates to deprivation – adopt an “eat it” attitude instead!
Don’t Myth Out!
- Bland doesn’t have to be bleh! High-sodium diets carry increased risk for heart disease, but many people are so used to high-sodium diets that unsalted, fresh food may taste bland. But, salt is an acquired taste – one that can be un-acquired! The greatest amount of sodium in American diets comes from restaurant foods, so if you’re dining out frequently it’s especially smart to limit your sodium where you can – at home. Canned foods can be rinsed and drained. You can find cereals and breads with less than 180mg of sodium per serving. Spices and natural flavoring makes food taste amazing. If you’re limiting your processed foods and dining out infrequently, then enjoy a pinch of salt. Instead of cooking with salt or keeping a salt shaker on the table, try a pinch of intensely tasteful finishing salt – just a little goes a long, long way. Salt-free seasonings like Mrs. Dash are delicious. I flavor all sorts of foods with the juice and zest of fresh lemon, lime and orange peel.
- Choose non-fat foods to lose weight! Wrong! The no-fat craze of the ‘80s is linked to the epidemic of overweight and obesity! In fact, eliminating fat from your diet not only makes food unpalatable and boring, it’s actually unhealthy. Some fats are health enhancers, such as the mono-and polyunsaturated fat in nuts, seeds, avocado and some fatty fish. Some fat is necessary to absorb vital nutrients. However, when it comes to fat, there’s no benefit to deep-frying. Deep-fried foods generally soak up oil – and can transform a healthy food, such as lean fish or poultry (skin-free) into a high-fat food. Grill, bake, broil – poach in wine or broth. Enjoy the taste of food, instead of cooking oil.
- Everyone needs at least 8 glasses of water daily! This myth is gradually being debunked in expert circles. In fact, what you need daily is different from what I need, and the old “8x8” was a convenient idea, but not based in science. What we all do need is fluid – from water, or tea, or coffee, but the idea is to replenish the fluids that are lost through normal body processes daily – from breathing and elimination. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and that’s a real red flag when it comes to maintaining your motivation and health. Sipping on fluids between meals helps to cut your appetite, but it’s not vital to consume 64 ounces of water if you’re also quaffing other non-caloric liquids.
- Stop eating after 8 p.m. While you may be more prone to indigestion if you eat a big meal before you go to sleep, eating late won’t necessarily interfere with your weight loss goals. As long as you’re planning your meals in advance, or logging your calories daily and know you’re within your calorie goals, it’s not a given that if you eat late you won’t lose weight. That said, try to eat smaller meals more frequently – it’s a good strategy for maintaining your energy and keeping your metabolism humming evenly. One successful diet strategy is to plan for a sweet snack in the evening. For many, going to bed hungry sometimes provokes them to eat too much the next day. But, a cup of warm almond milk or sugar-free hot chocolate, maybe with a sliced Granny Smith apple (a nice combination of sweet, tart, and crunch), can satisfy your tastes and soothe your cravings, and you’ll awake the next day feeling happy are ready to enjoy the taste of eating right!
Susan Burke March is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, who as chief nutritionist for eDiets promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.