Since our theme is “Renewal in Recovery,” we wanted to send along some reminder tips regarding healthy eating. What is healthy eating? Our culture's diet craze is now a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry that leaves the public reeling with facts and myths to sort through. As an antidote to this confusion, following is a list of tips for healthy eating.
- Listen to your body. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full.
- Balance: Balance means that most of the time you eat because you're hungry and use food as fuel for your body. But it also means that sometimes you eat simply when the food appeals to you or when it is appropriate in a social setting (e.g., popcorn at the movies), allowing yourself to eat for enjoyment. Such balance provides both physical satisfaction and decreases the likelihood of overeating certain foods due to a feeling of deprivation or denial. There are both physiological and psychological factors in our food/eating choices. With balance, we honor both.
- Variety: Choose foods from a variety of sources. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid provides a structure for determining the number of servings from each food group that will provide the best variety. Eat different foods every day.
- Moderation: Portion size is key. Most restaurants aim to please by offering great value through large portions. Just because you are given a large portion doesn't mean you have to eat it all! Take some home for later. Consult the Food Guide Pyramid for examples of serving sizes until you can gauge an appropriate serving size for yourself by listening to your body.
- Drink plenty of water. Eight 8 ounce glasses of water is a good daily average.
- Aim for 3 meals and 1 to 3 snacks a day. The idea that snacking between meals is bad is a thing of the past. By eating every 2 to 4 hours, you prevent your body from getting overly hungry—which could set you up to overeat later. Plus, the body uses the fuel from food very efficiently when you're eating smaller amounts more frequently throughout the day. This means that your metabolism is revved up and running at full speed, which reduces the likelihood of calories being stored as fat.
- Avoid radical and fad diets. Don't even think about it! Fad diets and yo-yo weight patterns only make your body work harder to maintain homeostasis. Weight fluctuations may increase your body's "set-point"—the weight at which your body wants to stay. Bottom line: eat normally, exercise moderately, and let your body weigh what it wants.
Hayes, D., King, N., & Kratina, K. (1996). Moving away from diets. Lake Dallas: Helm Seminars Publishing.
U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000). Dietary guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2000/document/summary/default.htm
U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1992). Food guide pyramid. Retrieved from http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/Fpyr/pyramid.html
Satter, E. (1987). How to get your kid to eat . . . but not too much. Palo Alto, CA: Bull Publishing Co.
Tribole, E.T. & Resch E. (1995). Intuitive eating. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
By Deborah Loder, RD