Take a healthy bite for longer life
When I was a child, Grandma always warned us not to use our teeth to dig our graves. Now she is 106 years old and as strong as a lion, while some of her children and grandchildren are ailing from nutrition-related illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and obesity.
How healthy is your bite? Are you digging your own grave with your teeth?
March is National Nutrition Month and it is important for us to focus on what we are biting into. Research and personal experience - yours and mine - have shown that the foods we eat contribute either to our health or ill-health.
Why eat healthy?
• To improve our immune system and reduce the risk of developing certain illnesses, even the simple flu.
• Prevent unintentional weight gain and weight loss.
• Reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers such as colon, breast and
• Reduce the chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus, and being overweight or obese.
• Control blood sugars, blood cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight.
• Better rest or sleep.
• Improve overall quality of life.
Tips for taking a
• Eat smaller amounts of food at meal and snack times.
• Eat and drink from smaller plates, bowls, cups, mugs.
• Eat away from the kitchen, pantry, kitchenette.
• Chew foods slowly ... at least 32 bites.
• Eat then wait about 20 minutes before going back for seconds or more food.
• Use more natural seasonings and spices instead of those that are artificially flavoured.
• Eat a handful of nuts every day.
• Eat three to five servings of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables every day. Eat more salads than cooked vegetables.
• Limit sugar, honey and molasses intake.
• Use less oil, margarine and butter in meal preparation. Bake, boil, steam and stew instead of frying.
• Use plant- or vegetable-based oils that are high in unsaturated fat such as coconut, corn, canola or olive oils.
• Eat less salt and salty foods. Limit sodium intake to one teaspoon (2,500mg) per day for a normal healthy individual. If you have diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, kidney disease, limit sodium intake to half-teaspoon or 1,500mg per day.
• Read food labels carefully ... the less ingredients in the products, the better.
• Eat less servings of carbohydrates-rich foods. It is a part of our culture to eat lots of 'tough food', rice, bread, pudding, dumpling and crackers. Choose three to five, half-cup or four-ounce servings of carbohydrates-rich foods at each meal. Persons who are more physically active should do the upper limit (five) and inactive or overweight persons the lower limit (three).
• Drink or eat about two to three servings of cow's milk or milk products per day. Adults and children need milk for protein, calcium and naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. If you are lactose intolerant, use soy milk, processed milk products or less cow's milk along with your meals. Processed milk such as yogurt and natural cheese (cheddar, mozzarella) have less lactose.
• Drink more water instead of juice, drinks or sodas. Try flavouring your water with lime, lemon, ginger, orange or your favourite fruit or vegetable.
As we celebrate Nutrition Month this March, let us make healthy food choices, chew slowly, wait 20 minutes after eating to decide if we are still hungry and want more food, eat smaller portions or less foods to prevent or control illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, certain types of cancers and heart disease.
Let us salute the work of our registered dietitians, registered nutritionists and other nutrition advocates.
STOP DIGGING AND START LIVING!
- Marsha N. Woolery, RD, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist at Fairview Medical and Dental Centre, Montego Bay, and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org