Food For Thought

Food For Thought



Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can contribute to your overall health and well-being. Experts at the American Dietetic Association say it’s never too late to take steps to a healthy lifestyle. 

“Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated,” says registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Angela Ginn-Meadow. During National Nutrition Month and beyond, follow these tips to help make healthy changes in your lifestyle.

  • Make a plan: Adopt a few specific small changes. “When you make a realistic plan, the changes won’t seem so overwhelming,” says Ginn-Meadow. “A few small healthy changes, such as adding one piece of fruit to your diet each day, aren’t difficult to do and can make a huge difference to your health.”
  • Focus on your food: “Plan out your meals so you aren’t forced to make unhealthy decisions based on convenience,” says Ginn-Meadow.  “Making sure you eat balanced meals with appropriate portions will help you manage your caloric intake.”
  • Make calories count: “Make meal choices that focus on nutrient rich foods,” says Ginn-Meadow. The majority of your food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients.  
  • Increase physical activity: Regular physical activity is important for overall health and fitness.   The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults be physically active for about an hour a day. 
  • Play it safe: “Even the right food choices can affect your health if you don’t follow food safety rules,” says Ginn-Meadow.  Always clean hands and food-contact surfaces, keep raw and cooked foods separate, cook foods to a proper temperature and chill leftovers promptly to avoid illness.
  • Be aware of special needs: Nutritional needs change depending upon your age and overall health. “Older adults need more vitamin D and calcium to help maintain bone health,” says Ginn-Meadow. “It’s important to check with a registered dietitian to figure out what your specific nutritional needs are.”

The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at


Eat to Look Lean

What, When and How Much

When it comes to eating to look lean, there are really only three questions that need answers; What, When and How Much.

Each of your meals needs to include all three of the following components:

  1. Lean quality protein to repair and regenerate all the cells and tissues in the body (ex: chicken, turkey, fish, pork, beef, egg whites and low-fat dairy products)
  2. Clean carbs for energy and fiber (ex: all-natural and whole-grain sources, including rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, breads)
  3. Fruits and vegetables for nutrients and fiber


You must consider that your body can only store roughly four hours’ worth of fuel, so the traditional three meals a day format often leaves you with six or more hours between meals. Even if you make healthy choices, your body is still running out of fuel, and is forced to burn muscle. The solution is to maintain a balanced breakfast and dinner, but instead of having just one lunch at midday, have two lunches, one in the late morning and the other in the early afternoon.

How Much
When you eat this way you can rest assured that your body is getting an adequate amount of nutrients and energy, which will prevent your body from ever consuming its own muscle tissue as an energy source. This in turn will keep your fat-burning metabolism functioning efficiently. Make sure each of your four meals contains:

  1. Fist-size serving of fruits and/or vegetables
  2. Fist-size serving of clean carbs
  3. Palm-size serving of protein

Common Question #1
In the absence of enough food, why won’t my body just burn fat? Fat is your body’s ultimate protective mechanism or device. In other words, your body thinks it’s doing you a favor by storing extra fat. Here’s how it works: Your body protects itself from the threat of starvation by stockpiling body fat. There’s always food available to you when you want it, but your body doesn’t know that! Consequently, every time you intentionally deprive yourself, or just get too busy and go too long between meals, it represents that same threat of starvation to your body.

Each time your body senses that threat it drops into what I call “protection mode.” In protection mode, your body wants to hoard fat, not burn it. Also, because you didn’t eat, there are no carbs available for energy. The only thing left for your body to burn for energy is protein (muscle tissue)! And this is where weight loss on deprivation diets comes from.

The good news: Your body doesn’t want to be burdened by storing and carrying around any more fat than it has to; it only does it to protect you! Be encouraged knowing that your body is ready and willing to part with its fat when you give it what it needs. Consistently give your body enough of the right foods at the right times in the right amounts, so you can stay out of protection mode and in fat-burning mode.

Bruce Day is the developer of the Eat Wise and Exercise educational DVDs and the creator of the Learn to Be Lean fat-loss system. Day has more than 27 years of experience teaching fitness and nutrition.

Article by Bruce Day
Success Magazine


Reading Nutrition Food Labels

Most packaged foods have a Nutrition Facts label. Here are some tips for reading the label and making smart food choices:


  • Check servings and calories.
     Look at the serving size and how many servings you are actually eating.
    If you eat 2 servings of a food, you will consume double the calories and double the % Daily Value (% DV) of the nutrients listed on the Nutrition Facts label.
  • Make your calories count. 
    Look at the calories on the label and compare them with the nutrients they offer.
  • Eat less sugar. 
    Foods with added sugars may provide calories, but few essential nutrients. So, look for foods and beverages low in added sugars.
    Read the ingredient list, and make sure added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients.
    Names for added sugars (caloric sweeteners) include sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, and fructose.
  • Know your fats.
    Look for foods low in saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol, to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
    Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as those in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
    Fat should be in the range of 20% to 35% of the calories you eat.
  • Reduce sodium (salt); increase potassium.
    Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about 1 tsp of salt) per day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
    Older adults tend to be salt-sensitive.  If you are an older adult or salt-sensitive, aim to eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each
    day–the equivalent of about 3/4 teaspoon.  To meet the daily potassium recommendation of at least 4,700 milligrams, consume fruits and vegetables, and fat-free and low-fat milk products that are sources of potassium including:  sweet potatoes, beet greens, white potatoes, white beans, plain yogurt, prune juice, and bananas.  These counteract some of sodium’s effects on blood pressure.
    Most sodium you eat is likely to come from processed foods, not from the salt shaker.  Read the Nurition Facts label, and choose foods lower in sodium and higher in potassium.


nutrition label


  • Use the % Daily Value (% DV) column:  5% DV or less is low, and 20% DV or more is high.
  • Keep these low:  saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • Get enough of these:  potassium and fiber, vitamins A, C, and D, calcium, and iron.
  • Check the calories:  400 or more calories per serving of a single food item is high.


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