Certified Personal Trainer
” target=”_blank”>den - andy file Den Burdette
Certified Personal Trainer

I hope that readers have enjoyed my column so far and thank you for continuing to read my thoughts and advice. This issue I am dedicating to nutrition. Now that we are working on improving ourselves – being more active and getting our heart in better shape, we need to improve our eating habits. I am going to break down the food groups for you and give sensible options and choices. Remember if you want a BETTER YOU, you have to EAT WELL. That old adage…”You are what you eat,” rings so true for us.

First it is important to understand calorie intake and portion control. Eating a good balance of the USDA recommended 6 basic food groups within a reasonable calorie range will put you in the best nutritional health. The average adult needs approximately 850 calories a day to function. That means to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, pump your blood, etc. Any calories you consume above and beyond are your ENERGY or WORKING CALORIES. If you are trying to lose weight you certainly should burn off more than you take in total per day to burn stored body fat. The basic food groups consist of grains, vegetables, fruits, oils and fats, milk and dairy, and meat and beans.
It is recommended that you consume an average of 3 ounces per day of grains. These consist of bread, cereal, crackers, rice, and pasta. It is best to stick with those grains which are labeled WHOLE GRAIN. For instance, whole grain wheat bread or whole wheat pasta. Keep in mind that white bread has virtually no nutritional value.

The USDA says that you should consume about 4 servings per day of vegetables. It is best to stick with dark green veggies like broccoli, spinach, and kale. Also, orange veggies like squash, carrots, and pumpkin. Lastly, dry beans and non-green peas are good choices for veggies. Examples include black beans, lentils, and black eyed peas. “Starchy” veggies would consist of potatoes, green peas and corns. Those trying to lose weight should steer clear of these.

Food group #3 would be the daily recommend 3 servings of fruits. Eating fresh/raw fruits like berries and oranges are essential for a balanced diet. Anti oxidant fruits like blueberries are a great choice to add with yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal. Water based fruits like apples and oranges also help to keep the body well hydrated and provide natural glucose and carbohydrates which give you energy.

The most minor food group, next, is the oils and fats group. You want to make sure that you consume few servings of this group. I would endorse getting the majority of your oils and fats from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. It would be smart to limit butter, stick margarine, and shortening in your diet. These types of fats and oils are common sources of high levels of saturated fats.

Next we have the dairy group. Adults should take in at least 2 servings of dairy per day. These consist of milk products, cheese, and yogurt. It goes without saying that you should stick with low fat or fat free versions of these products to reduce cholesterol. If you enjoy yogurt, I would recommend GREEK YOGURT. On average, it contains twice the amount of protein and half the amount of sugar of regular yogurt. Try it you may really like it! And of course, for those who are lactose intolerant, you can find selections of lactose substitutes that generally give you the same vitamins you would find in dairy products. Lactaid is often a good alternative to milk for those who are lactose intolerant.

The final food group is meat and beans. Two to three servings a day of poultry, eggs, fish, pork, and dry beans will suffice to round out our food pyramid. Very important for this food group in particular is how the food is prepared. You should bake, broil or grill these and stay away from fried versions if at all possible. Those who are vegetarian have to seek other protein sources like tofu or beans.

With more than 1/3 of American adults being OBESE, we must work to change our eating habits. Fast food consists of large amounts of saturated fats – increases high blood pressure, high cholesterol and chances of developing Chronic Heart Disease (CHD). Eating raw and fresh veggies and fruits is a great alternative and surefire healthy substitute.

Ok, I am certainly not a cook by any means! Just ask my partner. LOL. I can grill some things, and I can make a decent salad. So for those of you who aren’t great cooks or who are too busy to cook here is some helpful advice. First, never food shop when you are starving. You will make more poor choices and be prone to unhealthy snacking. If you do your shopping on Sundays, you can plan and prepare your meal choices for the upcoming week. Plan and lay out the foods you are going to need for lunches and dinners for the week. Never skip breakfast! Try to eat whole grain cereal or oatmeal and fruit before you leave the house. Skipping this important meal will start you off on the wrong foot and commonly leads to overeating and making unhealthy choices for lunch.

Next we have the portion control issue. People who skip breakfast and or lunch tend to overeat at the next meal. The best way to handle this is to always consume breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and eat small snacks in between. Sensible snacks consist of unsalted nuts, yogurt, or a piece of fruit. If you eat snacks in between you will be more likely to eat a sensible portion size at the next meal because you are not starving. It’s most harmful to skip a meal and for your system to becoming starving, because your body will hold onto all the nutrients you take in and guess what… store it as FAT! And remember to stay hydrated through the day. Drinking the old standard 6 to 8 glasses of plain old water will keep you well hydrated. Those who often overeat are commonly dehydrated as well. If your belly is full from good hydration you will be much less likely to overeat.

So as you can tell, my common theme is overall wellness and health self-improvement. Use these notes and tools to improve your eating habits. Keep active by getting regular exercise, and drink plenty of water. Limit simple sugars and prepared foods that are way too high in sodium. Think simple. Eat fresh fruits and veggies. You will feel a lot better, trust me! Good luck and best wishes for improved health.

Need more help? Email me at den@mvfit.com .

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