Use these simple eating tips for form good eating habits in the New Year

Eating Tips for Good Health and Weight Loss in the New Year

USE THESE SIMPLE EATING TIPS FOR FORM GOOD EATING HABITS IN THE NEW YEAR

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.

Anyone old enough to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve will probably make a resolution to drop a few pounds in the coming year. It’s one of the top resolutions made in the first minute of the first day of every new year. If it’s on your list, I have a few eating tips that can help you reach your health and weight loss goals in 2013.

The key is forming good eating habits so the preferred behavior happens automatically. A habit is a habit whether good or bad, so swapping out your old way of eating for something new, and better, solves the problem for good.

The biggest challenge is interrupting the status quo. It’s like switching off the cruise control in the car when we’re driving on a highway. Once we do, we’ve got to think about maintaining the speed limit again. The same is true when we‘re making food decisions. It’s not that we dislike every brand of high fiber cereal on the shelf; we just keep selecting the same low fiber one over and over again because that’s what we’ve always done.

But that does not mean you should skip the resolutions when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. If you’re really willing to leave the old year behind, let this be the year you ring in good health and weight loss for the very last time.

Top 10 Eating Tips For 2013

  1. Pick a start date that works for you. There’s nothing magical about January 1st, or the 52 Mondays in the year, or your birthday. There’s also no reason to wait a minute longer if you’re ready. You can start right now.
  2. Be brutally honest with yourself about what has blocked your success in the past. Do you feel entitled to eat certain foods? Procrastinate about meal planning? Blame others for your food choices? It’s time to deal with those disabling thoughts and beliefs.
  3. Make educating yourself about good nutrition part of your commitment. It is much easier to eat well when you understand why it matters.
  4. Talk about the changes you’re making to those who need to know so they can be supportive of your efforts and so they’ll understand why you stopped eating the way you used to do.
  5. Don’t try to make anyone else change along with you, just be an example for them. You can only change yourself.
  6. Plan each meal and snack around a fruit or vegetable – or both – instead of thinking about the meat or starch first.
  7. If you eat out more than once a month, it’s not a special occasion. Those meals should be as well- planned and carefully selected as the meals you eat at home.
  8. Don’t worry about disappointing others if you don’t eat as much as you used to or celebrate with food the way you once did. Worry about disappointing yourself.
  9. Small changes are all it takes to overhaul your life as long as you make enough of them and you stick with each one.
  10. Make sure you never view any food as a reward, no matter how tempting or delicious. If you’re thinking, “I deserve to eat this,” don’t eat it unless you can say, “I choose to eat this.”

How many of your resolutions from last year did you keep?

Changing traditions can prevent weight gain from holiday foods and special party dishes

Holiday Treats, Party Dishes and Weight Gain

CHANGING TRADITIONS CAN PREVENT WEIGHT GAIN FROM HOLIDAY FOODS AND SPECIAL PARTY DISHES

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.

If you’re worried about gaining weight during Q4 (fourth quarter) with all of the holiday treats around, it may be time to rethink your annual food budget. Not the amount of money you spend on food, but how you eat throughout the year that makes holiday foods so costly in terms of calories.

It works something like this.

You deprive yourself of foods you love all year, and then when party dishes show up at traditional year-end gatherings, you cash in. The faulty logic of this approach is believing you can have all you want of the Hanukkah honey puffs or Christmas rum balls because you only eat them once a year. If only the math worked in your favor.

The sad truth is you can’t average out the calories you ate today over the other 364 days of the year.

What Makes Some Foods So Special?

The menus for most holiday feasts originated at a time when food was scarce. Being able to celebrate special occasions with foods you rarely got to eat, or foods that had historical or religious significance, helped make the events and the foods seem more important. Over time, the two got so cemented together in our psyches that we reserved eating those foods just for those occasions, even if we could enjoy them on any other day of the year.

The problem is we now have an abundance of food all year round and endless opportunities to eat more than we need. There is no longer a shortage of eggs, oil, or sugar, yet the symbolism of these ingredients and the holiday foods they’re used in lingers on.

One way to avoid over-indulging in them may be to start preparing your favorite party dishes at other times of year. By giving yourself permission to dip into those treasured recipes whenever you like you can diminish some of the pull they may have over your self-control when you confront them during the holidays.

What Else Can We Celebrate?

Gathering extended family around the same table has become a rarity in our 21st Century lives, yet is as important to our survival as the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock was nearly 400 years ago. Maybe now, instead of focusing all of our attention on the food we serve, we can use these special occasions to reconnect with one another.

One way to do that would be to start a “tech-free tradition” that requires everyone to leave behind their smart phones and tablets. Imagine all the verbal messages and hugs that might be exchanged when talking face-to-face with hands free!

What favorite holiday food would you like to eat all year?

Simple Kitchen Gadgets Key to Healthier Cooking

EQUIP YOUR KITCHEN WITH THESE INEXPENSIVE COOKING GADGETS TO MAKE HEALTHIER MEALS A BREEZE

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

There are a few cooking gadgets in my kitchen I cannot live without. They make healthier cooking easier, faster, and in some cases, safer. And best of all, they are low in cost. Stocking your kitchen with these handy gadgets and small appliances – and learning how to use them – is a great way to improve the quality of your diet without having to go to cooking school!

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Cooking Gadgets – Meat Thermometer: Animal protein is the most costly thing on your shopping list, so don’t take any chances ruining your steaks, chops, burgers, and roasts by over or under cooking. Plus these meats carry the risk of food poisoning if not cooked to the proper temperature, so take the time to check the temperature to get it right every time.

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Cooking Gadgets – Condiment Squeeze Bottles: You can find these during barbecue season or clean and refill the plastic squeeze bottles many condiments come in. They make portion control easier, save time since you don’t have to dirty a knife to use them and are more sanitary since utensils aren’t being dipped into them. I use mine to hold my “flavored” mayonnaise collection, including horseradish and wasabi mayonnaise, and have one for sour cream.

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Cooking Gadgets – Rotary Cheese Grater: Nothing can replace of the taste and aroma of freshly grated aged cheese, and fortunately, a little bit goes a long way. By cutting the cheese into one ounce chunks you can grate it as needed and keep the quantity you use under control.

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Cooking Gadgets – Food Processor: I consider this appliance my personal “prep cook.” It makes crumbs out of stale bread, shreds cabbage, chops nuts, dices mushrooms, blends pastry dough and so much more. Best of all, the time I save chopping far exceeds the time it takes to clean it.

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Cooking Gadgets – Olive Oil Sprayer: Even though olive oil counts as one of the “healthy fats,” we still have to control the amount we use. By spraying it on food or pans you can get the benefits without having to worry about over pouring.

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Cooking Gadgets – Pepper Mills: The key to using less salt in your food is to punch up the flavor with fresh ingredients and pungent seasoning. Nothing does that better than a pepper mill. But don’t stop with just one. Keep one for black pepper, one for green and one for assorted peppers.

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Cooking Gadgets – Pressure Cooker: Healthy foods don’t necessarily cost more, but they do take more time to cook. You can reduce your time in the kitchen and still have great food by overcoming your fear of pressure cooking. This appliance produces fast and predictable results when making dried beans, barley, brown rice, whole chicken, soups, stews and many other dishes that typically take several hours.

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Cooking Gadgets – Citrus Juicer: When a recipe calls for the juice of a lemon or lime, nothing beats the flavor of fresh. If you don’t always have fresh citrus on hand, buy it when it’s on sale, cut in half and freeze, then just remove and “twist” out the juice when needed.

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Cooking Gadgets – Immersion Blender: This easy to clean and store gadget can go from making a smoothie to pureeing soup to mashing potatoes. I love the fact it goes into the pot or bowl rather than having to transfer food into a blender. Best suited for those small quantities you want to whip uop fast.

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Cooking Gadgets – Electric Kettle: As a tea drinker, this kettle is in demand in my kitchen all day. But it’s not just for tea. You can boil a quart of water faster here than in a pot on the stove top or in the microwave. I use any leftover water in the kettle to sterilize the kitchen sponge and sink drains.

New research provides further evidence why we should prevent zinc deficiency as we age

Today’s Nutrition News: Preventing Zinc Deficiency

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

NEW RESEARCH PROVIDES FURTHER EVIDENCE FOR WHY WE SHOULD PREVENT ZINC DEFICIENCY AS WE AGE

You don’t hear much about zinc deficiency in nutrition circles. My chief recollection of it from

undergraduate school was that it was responsible for the a loss of taste as we aged. Fearing that possibility, I’ve always paid attention to the zinc content of foods. (Baked beans, dark meat chicken, cashews, chick peas and Swiss cheese are my favorites)

Now a new study helps to explain why we develop zinc deficiency as we age. This research may lead to a better understanding of how we can continue enjoy the taste of our food as we grow older and benefit from the many other important functions zinc performs in the body.

Reasons for Zinc Deficiency

The research was done by scientists at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. They found signs of zinc deficiency in older rats that had adequate zinc in their diets. The cause was malfunctioning zinc transporters. In a convoluted process, the mechanisms used to transport zinc were disrupted by changes in DNA, and the DNA was damaged by the lack of zinc.

In humans as well as rats, zinc is needed to repair the damage to DNA that goes on in the body throughout life. This study and others suggest our ability to keep up with these repairs becomes less efficient over time while the need gets greater.

One of the most serious effects of low zinc levels is an enhanced inflammatory response. Excessive inflammation is directly linked to many life-threatening diseases, including cancer and heart disease. When the rats in this study were given 10 times their dietary requirement for zinc, biomarkers for inflammation retuned to the levels of younger animals.

Given the aging of the population and rising rates of degenerative diseases, the role of zinc in controlling inflammation may be its most important contribution to a healthy retirement.

Key Facts About Zinc in the Diet

Zinc is involved in the activity of over 100 enzymes and needed for proper immune function, DNA and protein synthesis, wound healing and cell division.

The combination of low dietary intake of zinc and poor absorption can lead to a deficiency. Government food intake surveys found the diets of 35%-45% of people over age 60 did not meet average zinc requirements. When zinc sources from both diet and supplements were measured, 20%-25% still had inadequate intakes.

Current Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for zinc for people over age 19 are 11 mg/day for men and 8 mg/day for women. Due to lowered rates of absorption in older adults, many nutrition scientists believe the RDA for people over 50 should be increased.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency include frequent infections, hair loss, poor appetite, loss of sense of taste and smell, poor wound healing, and mental lethargy. Many of these symptoms are also associated with other health problems so a thorough medical exam is needed to make a diagnosis.

People with higher risk for zinc deficiency are those with digestive diseases, malabsorption syndrome, chronic liver or renal disease, sickle cell disease, alcoholics, and vegetarians.

There are no medical tests to adequately measure zinc status. A dietary assessment is the best tool along with a review of medical history and medication use.

Zinc toxicity can occur from overuse of dietary supplements and over-the-counter cold remedies. Signs include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The Tolerable Upper Intake for men and women over age 19 is 40 mg/day.

Abuse of the word addiction may explain why some people believe they have food addiction

Popular Diet News: Do You Have a Food Addiction?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

ABUSE OF THE WORD ADDICTION MAY EXPLAIN WHY SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE THEY HAVE FOOD ADDICTION

When I saw the advertisement for a shampoo that said you would become “addicted” to it because it made your hair so silky, I knew things had gone too far. Can we really become addicted to shampoo? What about food addictions and addictions to texting, tanning, video games, the Internet, cosmetic surgery, shoes? If you believe the latest headlines, those things all have the power to turn us into addicts.

While I doubt that using the same shampoo everyday can do any harm, abuse of the term addiction can.

In my 30+ years in practice as a Registered Dietitian I’ve had many clients tell me they believed they were addicted to certain foods. Those foods were the same ones everyone else ate, but somehow they got hooked. These people couldn’t just eat a normal portion. They obsessed over the food, kept secret stashes of it and felt guilty after eating it, usually in large quantities.

The one thing these people all had in common was a feeling of helplessness once they labeled their problem an addiction. I often wondered how they would fare if they simply said they really “liked” the food?

Finding Another Word for Addiction

There is little agreement in the medical community about whether you can actually have a food addiction. When you compare it to an addiction to heroin, it seems trivial to even ask. But as in the example of the shampoo ad, I think the real problem is that the word addiction is being used too casually.

What people mean when they say they are addicted to chocolate, potato chips or pizza is that it tastes really good to them and when they eat it they want to eat more of it. That is not evidence of an addiction. If you eat more chocolate than you should, that may be a sign of emotional eating or compulsive overeating or a problem with impulse control. Or it may be nothing more than a craving.

The definition of addiction used by the American Society of Addiction Medicine states it is a chronic disease with biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. There are a lot of chocolate lovers in the world, but they don’t all have a chronic disease. In fact, when it comes to so called food addictions, it’s interesting to note that only some people are affected. There are significant gender and cultural differences in what becomes an addictive food. That is not the case with alcohol, nicotine or opium.

I understand that it is very difficult for some people to control their consumption of certain foods. Their genes, brain chemistry, and personality may predispose them to becoming dependent on certain substances or behaviors. But when it comes to food, it just may be a question of too much of a good thing.

If you think you are addicted to a food, try to reframe the way you think about it, starting with the language you use. You’ll enjoy that chocolate much more if you focus on how much you love the taste while eating it, rather than fearing you won’t be able to stop eating it because you’re addicted to it.

If someone offered you a million dollars to never eat your “favorite” food again, could you do it?

Diet plays a major role in protecting eye health

Food As Medicine: Nutrients for Eye Health

DIET PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE IN PROTECTING EYE HEALTH

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

Which of your five senses do you most fear losing? I know it’s my sight, and apparently 55 percent of other baby boomers feel the same way. Concerns about eye health are right up there with worries about heart disease and cancer according to a survey by the Ocular Nutrition Society done in 2011.

So why aren’t we doing more to protect our vision?

Nearly half of the survey respondents said they don’t typically have an annual eye exam and even fewer were aware of the ways to keep their eyes healthy. This is a problem we need to focus on (pun intended) since the National Eye Institute projects the number of eye health issues among Americans will double over the next 30 years due the aging of the population.

Nutrients That Protect Your Eyes

Four of the biggest causes of vision trouble – cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy – are linked to good nutrition. Do you know if your diet and supplements are meeting all of your visual needs?

Most people know that Vitamin A is important for good vision after hearing all those carrot jokes growing up. But three other equally important nutrients are less familiar: Omega 3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin.

The percentage of survey respondents not aware of the role of these nutrients in maintaining eye health were:

  • 60% for Omega 3 fatty acids
  • 66% for Lutein
  • 89% for Zeaxanthin

Omega 3 fats are the ones in oily fish, like salmon and sardines, and in walnuts and flax seeds. Lutein and zeaxanthin are plant pigments most abundant in leafy green vegetables, but also found in pistachio nuts, corn, and egg yolks. A diet including two 3-ounces servings of fish each week 2-3 cups of vegetables every day is a good way to get the needed amounts of each.

If your diet is not that consistent, a dietary supplement may be needed to fill the gaps. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for Omega 3 fatty acids is 1.6 grams/day for men and 1.1 grams a day for women. The National Academy of Sciences has not established aDRIfor Lutein/Zeaxanthin, butcurrent recommendations are 6-10 mg/day for adults.

Other Ways to Take Care of Your Eyes

  • Wear sunglasses, safety glasses and protective sports lenses
  • Replace liquid and creamy eye makeup every 3 months and whenever you develop an eye infection
  • Look away from computers screens for 20 seconds every 20 minutes

At what age did you first need help to correct your vision?

 

 

 

 

Signs of an eating disorder need to be evaluated regardless of age

Eating Disorder in Midlife Often Overlooked

SIGNS OF AN EATING DISORDER NEED TO BE EVALUATED REGARDLESS OF AGE

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

The recent sudden death of a 65 year old woman I know made me wonder if she wasn’t one of those women who struggled with an undetected eating disorder in the final two decades of her life. She had become “painfully thin” and looked so frail I couldn’t imagine how she stood up on her own. When I saw her at social gatherings, she never had a plate of food. And although she had some medical problems, her death came as a shock to everyone who knew her.

There’s plenty of evidence to show women do not stop caring about their weight as they age. How they deal with it separates the perpetual dieters from those with anorexia, bulimia or other disordered eating. Unfortunately, the societal pressures on women to be thin have become so persistent that women over 40 are just as likely to have eating disorders as those under 40.

The appearance of an eating disorder in an older woman is often the resurfacing of a problem that started in her youth. Anyone who learned at a young age to cope with stress by controlling her appetite is susceptible to resuming those coping mechanisms when life gets difficult. For women over 40, the trigger may be a trauma, such as the end of a marriage, loss of a loved one, or onset of menopause.

But even a woman who never dieted in her 20s can resort to unhealthy food restriction in her 50s when she realizes her tummy is not flat as it used to be. A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in June 2012 found 62% of women age 50 and older said their weight negatively impacted their lives.

The danger for older women is that they are not as readily diagnosed as young girls. Changes in the eating habits of a teenager are noticed by her parents, as is a sudden drop in weight or the absence of menstruation. Since weight loss and a diminished appetite are common side effects of many illnesses and medications, they are not as surprising when seen in an older woman.

Yet the health risks of eating disorders are just as great for older women as young. The heart muscle is weakened, cognitive function declines and bone loss accelerates. If left untreated it can lead to organ failure and death. The goal is to get treated before these problems begin.

Signs of Possible Eating Disorder

  • Excessive concern with dieting and losing weight
  • Dissatisfaction with body weight, shape, size
  • Weighing oneself more than once a day
  • Denial of hunger
  • Excessive or compulsive exercise
  • Self-induced vomiting after eating
  • Binge-eating followed by guilt, shame, regret
  • Use of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills without medical supervision

Even though eating disorders look like food issues on the outside, they are rooted in unresolved psychological issues. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression. Focusing on how much you weigh can be much easier than dealing with low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness.

It is important to remember that the behavior of someone with an eating disorder is an expression of their pain. They do not need to be told to eat more or exercise less. What they need is recognition of their pain, and an offer of help to get some relief.

Do you recognize the signs of an eating disorder in anyone you know?

Most of the factors that affect life expectancy are under our own control

Factors That Affect Life Expectancy

MOST OF THE FACTORS THAT AFFECT LIFE EXPECTANCY ARE UNDER OUR OWN CONTROL

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

The oldest person in New Jersey died this week. She was 111 years old and lived the final years of her life less than 5 miles from my home. Seeing that headline in the morning newspaper immediately made me think about longevity and the factors that affect life expectancy. It seems the more we learn from and about these hearty centenarians, the more we must all be prepared to answer the question:

If you knew you were going to live to be 100, what would you do differently today?

It is a question worth pondering since health officials using data from the most recent Census predict that by 2050 more than 800,000 Americans will live their lives across two centuries. Another is that research sponsored by the National Institute on Aging found when studying animals that only about 30% of aging is based on genetics. That means as many as 70% of the factors that influence how long we live might be under our own control.

Factors That Affect Life Expectancy

Personal behavior and one’s physical environment are two broad categories that influence our life span. Behaviors such as not smoking, not abusing alcohol, eating a plant-based diet, and being physically active every day are shared by those who live the longest. Research has also shown that keeping socially connected, mentally engaged, and easy going are equally important traits.

Some of the environmental risks we can try to control are our exposure to the sun and air pollution, getting immunized, wearing seat belts, and avoiding toxic chemicals in our homes and workplace. Of course it may not be possible to move to a place where the air and water quality are better, but you can use a water filter.

What Are You Waiting For?

The biggest gains in life expectancy made in the last 50 years can be attributed to our ability to treat lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. But it has come at great cost and great suffering. We have also learned how to prevent those chronic diseases, but have not been successful motivating people to make the needed changes in their behavior and environments. Maybe the longevity question holds the key?

If you knew you were going to live to be 100, what would you start doing today?

For other posts on this topic:

  • How to Predict Longevity in Women
  • Feeding the Aging Mind
  • Longevity Secret Revealed
Fish oil supplements provide needed omega 3 fatty acids not found in most diets

Why You Shouldn’t Stop Taking Fish Oil Supplements

FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS PROVIDE NEEDED OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS NOT FOUND IN MOST DIETS

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

If this week’s headlines have you thinking you can stop taking your fish oil supplements, keep reading. The headlines and news coverage of the study they were based on do not tell the whole story. But as I’ve said before, it is never a good idea to make a dietary change based on a single news report unless it’s for a food recall, and here’s why.

The research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association investigated whether people taking fish oil capsules had less risk of heart disease and death than those who did not. While the headlines said they did not, several factors limited the findings. The biggest one being that the subjects were not a healthy population, but people who had already suffered heart attacks and strokes. Since most people with a history of cardiovascular disease are taking multiple medications, it simply may not have been possible to tell what impact their fish oil supplements were having on lowering their risk factors.

Key Take-Away: This study provides no indication of how fish oil supplements benefit healthy people, but plenty of others do.

Why Take Fish Oil Capsules?

Fish oil capsules are a source of essential omega 3 fatty acids. An essential nutrient is required by the body, but cannot be manufactured by the body. That means we must get it from food or supplements.

What Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids Do We Need?

There is not just one omega 3 fatty acid. The name omega 3 simply indicates that there is a double bond (between two carbon atoms) in a specific location on the fatty acid. For dietary purposes, we are most concerned with the types of omega 3s found in fatty fish, called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and the type found in plants called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

What Role Do Omega 3 Fatty Acids Play in the Body?

Omega 3 fatty acids play a role in several metabolic processes, including reducing inflammation, lowering high triglyceride (blood fat) levels, reducing the pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis, improving cognitive function with aging, aiding the treatment of depression, and enhanced brain development in infants. Research also shows omega 3 may reduce the risk of plaque build up in the arteries, inflammatory bowel disease, Attention Deficit Disorder, bone loss, and psychiatric disorders.

How Much Omega 3 Do We Need?

The Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Science establishes the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for essential nutrients for both the U.S. and Canada. The DRI are intended to satisfy the nutrient needs of most healthy people in each age group. The Acceptable Intake (AI) of omega 3 fatty acids for males and females aged 40-50 years is 1.6grams/day and 1.1 grams/day respectively.

How Much Omega 3 Do We Consume?

Eating 8 ounces a week of a variety of seafood supplies about 1.7 grams of EPA and DHA, which is enough to meet the DRI for adult men and women noted above. But the mean intake of all types of fish eaten by Americans is 3.5 ounces per week, less than half the amount needed to meet the Acceptable Intake. Plant sources of omega 3, such as seed oils, walnuts, and soybeans, supply 1.3-2.0 grams a day of ALA, but less than 5 percent of it is converted to DHA and EPA.

Do We Need Fish Oil Supplements?

All dietary supplements are meant to help fill in the gaps created when we don’t eat all the foods we need in the amounts we need to meet our nutritional needs every day. Fish oil supplement are an excellent way to get essential omega 3 fatty acids if you are not eating 8 ounce/week of seafood, such as salmon, sardines and tuna.

Are you eating all the fish you need each week to get your omega 3s?

Basic guidelines for how to eat healthy have not changed

Still Not Sure How to Eat Healthy?

BASIC GUIDELINES FOR HOW TO EAT HEALTHY HAVE NOT CHANGED

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

Consumer surveys done over the last ten years have found more and more people feel there is too much controversy over how to eat healthy, so they have stopped trying. Are you one of them? I can understand your frustration because I read all of the food and nutrition news that is released every day to stay abreast of the issues, and I find it overwhelming. Yet no matter what I read, it rarely affects what I eat. That’s because the basic requirements for a healthy and balanced diet have not changed significantly in over 30 years.

It was 1980 when the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released. My diet has pretty much conformed to them ever since. The recipes I use have changed, but not the food. The 7 Guidelines at that time were:

  1. Eat a variety of foods
  2. Maintain ideal weight
  3. Avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
  4. Eat foods with adequate starch and fiber
  5. Avoid too much sugar
  6. Avoid too much sodium
  7. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation

Every five years since then the Dietary Guidelines have been updated, but they have not dramatically revised what Americans should eat, just how much. Unfortunately, those revisions have fueled endless debates over the details which have kept most Americans from getting started on the basics.

If you’re confused about how to eat healthy, maybe it’s time to get back to basics.

Basic Requirement of a Healthy Diet

The most important guideline in the bunch is the first one: Eat a variety of foods. It seems so simple, yet few people actually do it. Variety in the diet means you eat foods from each of the food groups every day:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Protein Foods
  • Dairy
  • Oils

Variety also means you make different choices within each food group from day to day and week to week throughout the year. That is always possible when you realize you can choose fresh produce some days and frozen or canned on others. Or you can include eggs, fish, beans, nuts, beef, chicken or pork in your meal for a good source of protein. Eating a variety of grains means you add barley to a pot of soup instead of rice sometimes, take the tabbouleh from the salad bar instead of pasta salad, or use a whole wheat bun on your burger instead of a white one.

How to Handle the Headlines

No matter what crazy claim is being made in the headlines, you have little to worry about if you are eating a wide variety of all the basic foods you need in the right amounts. That alone will provide you with a built-in safety valve against over consumption of any food that could be harmful if eaten in excess. It also delivers a huge dose of natural protection from whatever risks might lurk in the environment.

So before you lose any sleep over whether organically grown fruits and vegetables are better than conventionally grown, be sure you’re eating the recommended 5-11 servings each day.

Also check out these other posts on the topic:

  • Getting Motivated to Eat Right
  • Do You Worry About Pesticides in Produce?
  • 9 Good For You Foods That Get a Bad Rap