The key elements of maintaining a proper weight are learning to control portion size, eating a balanced diet, getting in touch with your hunger and exercising on a regular basis. Though exercise has always helped to burn calories, lose body fat and keep muscle tone, exercise alone will not keep your weight in check. Eating only when you are truly hungry can help you stay on track. Many of us engage in emotional eating: we eat when bored, depressed angry or even happy. To curb this tendency we must reckon with our inner selves. This can be getting on a scale, putting on a pair of pants that used to fit, and writing down what we are putting into our mouths.
For me, maintaining my proper weight is a constant struggle but it is one I embrace and so can you. Remember, the real reason for food is to keep us alive and well.
Choosing healthful foods is integral to feeling good and possibly preventing diabetes, cancer and heart disease and numerous other health problems. Between fast food and vending machines, it’s often a challenge to eat basic foods that are not prepared or processed with too much salt, sugar and preservatives. Yet a wealth of fresh vegetables, fruits, dried beans, whole grains and nuts are available if you just know what to look for and make time to prepare nutritious meals.
As we age, our immune systems become more vulnerable – especially if we are recovering from illness. The food and agriculture industries are allowed by the FDA to use a multitude of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and even insect-based dyes to produce as much food as cheaply, and therefore profitably, as possible.
The movement toward organic foods and support for local farming in the U.S. has grown as more people become aware and concerned about the untested and unlabeled additives in our food supply. Although organic foods are often more expensive, the cost can be balanced by avoiding non-nutritious prepared foods – such as snack items, candy, sugary sodas and frozen meals – while choosing fresh produce, dried beans, whole grains and a limited amount of low fat dairy and lean meat and poultry.
Here is an important meal tip; eat a healthy breakfast. Why? Because it will give you energy to last through the morning so that you are not ravenous and prone to overeating at lunch. For the longest-lasting energy, balance three types of food in your breakfast: A serving of whole grains (a piece of whole wheat toast, a half-cup of oatmeal or a serving of whole-grain cereal per size listed on the package); two servings of fruits (which can include a glass of 100 percent juice) and a bit of low fat protein – such as yogurt, an egg, reduced-fat cheese, or skim milk on whole grain cereal. In calories and nutrition, it will beat a sugary, fatty pastry any day. Studies show that women who eat a healthy breakfast each day have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.
Informative food-related web sites are:
Center for Science in the Public Interest (www.cspinet.org)
American Institute for Cancer Research (www.aicr.org)
USDA Food and Drug Administration (www.nutrition.gov)
Organic Consumers Association (www.organicconsumers.org)