Recently the government has recommended a change in the food pyramid. Most people, if asked, do not even know what this is. While I think the pyramid may make for a great outline for a nutrition teacher, from a practical matter my recommendations are to “balance your health account check book daily” by following the below recommendations:
1. Portion size matters. ( do the arithmetic)
The easiest way to remember this is get to know the size of your fist. This equals a serving of protein. Most fruits come in portion sizes, unless the very largest apples, oranges, peaches etc. are picked. A portion of grain usually equals about 1/3 – ½ c. uncooked, and about 1 cup cooked. Vegetables, too, may come in portion sizes, potatoes, corn on the cob, tomatoes, carrots, etc. Most people do not eat enough veggies, so portion size of vegetables in most cases is a mute point. Portion size of nuts, seeds, oils, and other high fat foods due to their high calorie count are significant mostly in the diet of people who want to lose weight. For people who just want to maintain health and wellness think moderation.
2. Food Choices
By having kept a track of the daily food intake (assignment from spring) we can now evaluate how well we did. (more arithmetic)
- How many servings of fruits/vegetables/ proteins did we have daily?
- Did we have at least 5-6 total vegetables & fruits? 3-5 servings of proteins? 3 of the good fats? 3-5 whole grains?
- Were our food choices the best they could be with respect to high quality protein (with every meal)?
- Did we have a little healthy oil/fat daily? (unsaturated, mono/poly unsaturated fats?) (excluding supplements)
- How did we do on the organic, non-hormone, non-preserved, non -colored question?
- Are most of the foods we eat daily, processed, or did we have to wash, prepare and cook them?
- Did we find the organic dairy, poultry and/or meat, actually looks and tastes so much better?
- How about the grains? Have we explored new tastes, quinoa, spelt, or maybe even gotten back to cooking good old fashioned oatmeal again?
3. Balanced Meals
As we get used to keeping track of our food, meal planning becomes easier. For example, if breakfast was fresh fruit, and a bagel with a poached egg, and lunch was a cobb salad, dinner options are very open. If however, breakfast was a muffin on the run, and lunch was a sandwich, a balancing dinner would include a large portion of either fruit, and/or veggies with quality protein. By this example, one can see that each day there are many ways to get the required food groups in. However, planning each meal, or planning a meal based on what one had thus far during the day is actually sort of like “balancing your check book daily” except it is your health account.
Now part of this “Balancing your health account check book” idea daily also includes exercise. An active lifestyle has been shown to be very effective in the maintenance of health and wellness. Therefore, daily walks, biking to work, and /or walking the first 9 holes all matter. Individualized weight training programs are much more effective than going to the gym unsupervised, and without any specific goals.
5. Liquid consumption
For those of you have stated point blank, “I am not giving up my 2 glasses of wine, beer, martinis/night”….alcohol does affect your health checkbook balance. (in some cases possibly positively, and in others negatively.) Water should be the major component of your daily liquid consumption. Most people are simply not drinking enough water.
What is your average # hours/night? Are you well rested, and full of energy, with a healthy immune system, emotionally stable, or are crabby and miserable to be around at home and at work (like a young child needing a nap)? Yes, your health check book may be going in the negative here.
7. Medications and Supplements
It is important to take medications and supplements as prescribed. Many people are self-prescribing supplements, and over the counter drugs. This can be very dangerous to one’s health as there may be chemical interactions that may be even life threatening. At a minimum, have a physician specialized in natural medicines (ND) review your natural medicines and supplements. Always tell each of your physicians any and all OTC drugs, (over the counter) supplements, and medications you are taking.
8. Keeping Score
For your convenience a health journal is available here at the clinic. Keeping a written record ensures better outcomes. As you review the above recommendations, some of you may find to only have a minimal challenge before you, while others may have significant hurdles to overcome. To each of you reading this newsletter I would like to extend an invitation and challenge of increasing the balance in our health accounts.