Healthy Eating

What is Healthy Eating?

It is simply eating those foods known to promote good health in the amounts to achieve a good weight. Females who are overweight seem to have the most problems losing weight. Some of this is perhaps genetic and some hormonal. However, in the end, the weight loss is directly related to calories eaten. The old adage still stands – there are no fat people in concentration camps. Fortunately, Healthy Eating combines weight loss, diet and fiber together like an interlocking puzzle. When all three fit together, they produce a beautiful picture of a new you, physically and mentally. Let’s talk about each of these. The discussion won’t be too long as there are diets on each of these three topics in the Patient Education sections.

Losing Weight

There are no secrets here. Weight loss will occur if the calories you eat are less than what your body needs. What you need is a plan with short-term and long-term goals.

  • Do not lose weight rapidly. It will come back just as quickly. A slow weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is plenty. Five pounds a month is a realistic goal as is 20 pounds in six months.
  • Get a good waist high or full upright scale or weight yourself on such a scale at the YMCA or health club at least three times a week. Do not use a wimpy floor scale. They tend to be inaccurate on small weight changes. Permanent weight loss is serious business. Use a serious scale.
  • Analyze yourself. Are you a do-it-yourselfer, a group person, a binge eater? Do you need support from your spouse, a friend, a group program? There are so many types of weight loss programs available. Most health clubs, including the Y, have them. Weight Watches is a traditional low-cost program, especially if you avoid the expensive foods they sell. Hospital dietitians are available. What is right for you? Only you know this and can decide.
  • Activity. If you spend less time eating, you need something to fill the void. Activity, starting with vigorous walking, is almost a necessary part of the program. A 30-60 minute rapid walk once or even twice a day does wonders in clearing the head. Do not expect to burn off a whole lot of calories unless and until you get into aerobic exercise – i.e. swimming, jogging, bicycling, etc. Do not try to do exercise at home, especially on exercise equipment bought through TV ads. Home exercisers tend to quickly burn out. Go to a health spa or Y. Make friends with people who have similar interests.
  • Head games. Changing eating habits is like changing your instincts for breathing or sex. They are really part of ourselves, usually learned at an early age. How much food makes me full? Do I binge eat when I get stressed out? How do I deal with these feelings? This is difficult, make no mistake about it. Yet, to be successful, it must be addressed. Your physician, spouse or friend, or even clergy, may be able to help. Perhaps you can learn relaxation techniques or some other self-contemplative stress reduction method.

Healthy Eating

Changing from the high animal and saturated fat diet of the past to one high in cereals, fruits, vegetables and fish is critical to good health. Cancer and heart risk can be dramatically reduced by this eating pattern. Like weight loss, the science behind this action is solid and incontrovertible. The major points are as follows:

  • Reduce saturated fats and meat in the diet. Use them occasionally, perhaps once or twice a week. Saturated fat can be hidden everywhere – in whole milk, even 2%, most dairy products, spreads, butter, all types of baked goods, cookies and sweets. Read the food labels. Look for the fat content and the total calories. There is now a wealth of good nutritional information on them.
  • Eat fish two or three times a week. Tuna is fine. There is something about the unsaturated fat in fish that is quite healthy. It appears that those who are regular fish eaters have less coronary heart disease and heart attacks. Asian women who eat a low saturated fat, high fish diet, have a much healthier form of fat in their breasts and have a much lower incidence of breast cancer than American women. There is increasing evidence for the role of fish in reducing both heart disease and cancer. Poultry without the skin is the other healthy high protein food.
  • Vegetarian pizza, salads, grains, beans and pasta are incredibly healthy as are high protein substitutes for meat and poultry meals. You don’t need these latter high protein foods every day. A vegetarian day once a week or more is not a bad idea.
  • Cereals, grains and pasta. These are the cornerstone of Healthy Eating. They provide adequate calories in the form of complex carbohydrates, but also all the minerals you need and most of the necessary B vitamins. Grains and beans are exceptionally good protein sources.
  • Vegetables. You need lots of vegetables. Two or three servings a day is recommended. Green and brightly colored vegetables have good vitamin and antioxidant value. The cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, have chemicals in them that seem to have anti-cancer effects in the body.
  • Fruits. Two or three servings a day are recommended. A glass of orange juice is a serving. So is an apple or pear. Fruits have vitamins and a healthy dose of fiber.

So you slip once in awhile. You have an ice cream sundae with friends or a Hershey candy bar. No big deal. Simply step forward into your new Health Eating pattern the next day.

Full details on the Pyramid, Mediterranean, Asian and even Vegetarian Diets are available in the Diet Section under Patient Education.