The Norman Transcript

March 6, 2013

Celebrate National Nutrition Month by eating healthy

By Brenda Hill
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — If you have a chronic condition like hypertension or diabetes, a carefully planned diet can have a significant impact on managing your symptoms and improving your health. During National Nutrition Month in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages consumers to develop a healthy eating plan that is centered on personal health concerns and “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.”

Most people understand the role a healthy diet plays in overall health. What they may not fully grasp is the fact that a healthy diet can actually manage, and in some cases, prevent specific diseases. For example, eating heart-healthy foods can help lower blood pressure. This in turn reduces the risk of both heart attack and stroke. And even if you don’t have high blood pressure, a heart-healthy diet reduces your chances of heart disease in the future.

A healthy eating plan not only keeps health concerns in mind, but also incorporates individual needs such as personal nutrient requirements, food preferences, lifestyle and physical activity.

For those individuals with hypertension and heart disease, you should “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” or these health conditions, this included balancing calories with physical activity to manage weight and consuming fewer foods with sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains.

It’s also a great idea to increase the variety of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood.

A person needs to understand how food and nutrition affect the body in order to successfully manage diabetes. Good health depends on eating a variety of foods containing the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, in addition to vitamins, minerals, fiber and water.

Eating meals and snacks at regular times and eating about the same amount of food at each meal or snack can be beneficial for people who have diabetes. Select foods such as whole-grain breads, beans, cereals, pastas and rice, along with vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish, poultry, tofu, low-fat or fat-free milk and oils instead of solid fats. Keep in mind carbohydrates affect your blood sugar more than protein or fat. Keeping track of the amount of carbohydrates you eat can help control your blood sugar.

To help combat obesity, it is vital to establish a balance between calories consumed and calories burned through physical activity. Keep an eye on portion sizes in an effort to manage calories intake. Cut back or limit empty calories from added sugars. Make sure your diet included fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. These fiber-rich foods offer lots of vitamin and minerals while helping you feel full longer.

No matter what health concerns you have, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein is sure to get you started living a healthier life.

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