Learn to eat smart this month
Published 10:22 am Monday, March 15, 2004
This month, learn to "Eat Smart to Stay Healthy for a Lifetime," in celebration of National Nutrition Month.
Created in 1973 by the National Dietetics Association and celebrated each March, National Nutrition Month promotes healthy eating by providing practical nutrition information and guidance to the public.
Today, Americans are more overweight than ever before, and, it is not because of a lack of good nutritional information. More than likely it is because they don't pay attention to the serving sizes of the foods they eat.
Knowing the appropriate serving sizes for your nutritional needs is part of eating smart. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System Nutritionist Dr. Barbara Struempler said as food servings have increased in recent years, so has the public's perception of what a serving should be.
Years ago, a muffin was about one ounce with 50 calories. Today it is about five ounces and can contain more than 500 calories. Very few adults need more than 2,000 calories as day, so if you get 500 calories from one muffin, that's a significant part of your daily calorie intake.
According to the food guide pyramid, you should consume about two servings of protein each day. A serving of protein could be three ounces of poultry, fish or a lean meat (including beef, lamb and pork); two tablespoons of peanut butter; or one cup of legumes.
A three-ounce portion of meat is about the size of a deck of playing cards. A hamburger, two thin slices of roast beef, three-fourths of a cup flaked fish or half a chicken breast are all about three ounces, or one serving.
You should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A serving is half a cup of cooked or raw vegetables, a cup of fruit juice or one medium-sized piece of fruit.
Six servings of breads, cereals and starchy foods are recommended. A serving from this group would be a slice of whole-grain bread, half a cup of cooked cereal, one cup of flaked cereal, half a cup of pasta or rice, three cups of popcorn or six saltine crackers.
For adults, the food guide pyramid recommends two to three servings of dairy products. Children, teens and pregnant or nursing mothers need three to four servings. One serving from this group could be a cup of fat free milk, a cup of nonfat or low-fat yogurt, a cup of cottage cheese, one ounce of low-fat cheese or half a cup of ice cream.
Fats should always be limited, especially for weight control. Suggested serving sizes include one teaspoon oil, one teaspoon margarine, two teaspoons no-fat of low-fat mayonnaise, two teaspoons no-fat or low-fat mayonnaise-type salad dressing, two teaspoons sunflower or pumpkin seeds or one tablespoon of nuts.
A matchbook is about the size of a tablespoon of regular salad dressing or mayonnaise, and that typically contains about 100 calories.
Eating too much of even low-fat foods can still pack on the pounds. Watch what and how much you eat. Decreasing food intake to the recommended daily servings should help Americans lose pounds and maintain a healthy weight.
Try these healthy suggestions during National Nutrition Month and beyond:
Add color to your plate by eating more fruits and vegetables. Think red, green and orange. Fresh vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that may help prevent some cancers and lower blood pressure.
Try a new food or recipe at least once a month
Find ways to be active each day. If you walk as little as a mile a day, you will feel more energetic. You can build more muscle and be stronger at any age with regular weight training