This year when so much feels out of control, we need to remind ourselves that we can control what foods we put in our bodies. No doubt, many of us indulged freely over the holidays. That’s okay, no looking back, forget feeling guilty. But during January let’s set the tone for healthy eating for the rest of 2017.
I suspect most of you have heard about the most recent Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) healthy eating guidelines 2015-2020. It exploded the old “food pyramid” model and replaced it with the visual of a dinner plate.
Half of the plate is piled high with veggies and fruits while one quarter of the plate holds a moderate helping of protein (eg., soy, fish, chicken or beef) and the last quarter holds a helping of starch (eg., rice, potatoes, pasta, bread).
Good news! Good nutrition can affect obesity
You may say, “Duh, isn’t that obvious?” But more and more research shows that certain foods help us control weight (whole grains, fruits, veggies) and others contribute to weight gain (refined grains, sugar drinks). And, of course, the healthy foods also help prevent heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Here are some Harvard School of Public Health research highlights:
- Whole grains-whole wheat, brown rice, barley go easier on blood sugar and insulin, which may help keep hunger at bay. The same for most vegetables and fruits. “Slow carb” foods aid disease prevention and can help prevent weight gain.
- Fiber may be responsible for these foods’ weight control benefits, since fiber slows digestion, helping to curb hunger. Fruits and vegetables are also high in water, which may help people feel fuller on fewer calories.
- Eating nuts does not lead to weight gain and may instead help with weight control, perhaps because nuts are rich in protein and fiber, which help people feel fuller and less hungry. Nut-eaters are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease.
Avoid sugary drinks
- Fruit juices are not a better option for weight control than sugar-sweetened beverages. Ounce for ounce, fruit juices-even those that are 100 percent fruit juice, with no added sugar- are as high in sugar and calories as sugary sodas.
- So it’s no surprise that pediatricians and public health advocates recommend that children and adults limit fruit juice to just a small glass a day, if at all.
- A variety of vegetables: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables
- Fruits, especially whole fruit
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grain
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods, (seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds).
- Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.
- Limit added sugars. Less than 10% of your daily calories.
- Limit saturated and trans fats. Less than 10% of your daily calories.
- Limit sodium.
- Exercise! Checkout Physical Activity Guidelinesfor Americans.