Emotional Overeating Awareness Month

obesity healthy eating

If you struggle with emotional overeating, these tips can help you get on the road towards better health (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

One of the many challenges we face as a society is overcoming the recent rise in obesity rates among both adolescents and adults. With more than a third of the population currently categorized by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as obese  and more than two thirds considered overweight, now is the time to seek solutions for what many experts believe has become an epidemic.

While there are many factors believed to contribute to the obesity epidemic, the bottom-line is that most of us are simply eating and drinking more calories than our bodies require and when we have more than we need, the extra calories are stored as fat. In order to address this problem, we need to identify and correct this rampant overconsumption of calories. This is one of the goals of Emotional Overeating Awareness Month.

Emotional overeating happens when a person uses food as a way to feel good. For those that struggle with it, emotional eating offers a refuge from strong negative emotions and a way to dull those emotions so that they don’t have to be dealt with. But, this is not a healthy coping strategy for several reasons.

  1. It leads to weight gain, obesity, and the myriad of health problems caused by those conditions.
  2. It can become a vicious self-perpetuating cycle where the person eats to dull the pain, gains weight, experiences more negative emotions because of the weight gain, and then eats more to dull that pain.
  3. It keeps people from dealing with the source of those emotions.

While none of the people you know who are overweight or obese got that way solely because of emotional overeating, it can be a contributing factor. One of the challenges emotional overeaters face in overcoming this habit is that this kind of overeating often happens on autopilot. People who are eating because of their mood or emotion may not even realize they are eating until they have consumed a considerable number of calories.

There are things that emotional overeaters can do to help curb this behavior. Here are some strategies for dealing with emotional overeating and the emotions that underlie it in healthier ways.

  • Meet with a Nutritionist – A nutritionist or registered dietitian can help someone who struggles with overeating to pinpoint the triggers, behaviors, events, and emotions that support their overeating habits. They can also help identify healthy calorie intake levels, recommend ways to adopt healthier eating habits, and work to help improve overall eating habits and attitudes about food.
  • Meet with a Mental Health Provider – If emotional eating is a significant problem, there are emotional issues that need to be addressed and new, healthier coping strategies to be developed. A mental health provider can provide assistance and support for both.
  • Pay Attention – So much of emotional overeating is habit that happens without conscious thought that simply paying attention to what is going on in the mind, body, environment, etc. can help decrease overeating episodes and provide information needed to help increase the effectiveness of the other two strategies.

 

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Are Cleanses the New Eating Disorder?

juice cleanse

Are juice cleanses the new eating disorder? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Cleanses are healthy, right?  They are touted on major talk shows, endorsed by celebrities, and billed as a healthy way to lose weight and rid the body of toxins.  But are they actually good for your body?  And is the “cleanse culture” ushering in a new kind of eating disorder? To answer these questions, let’s start by looking at some of the most popular cleanses and the benefits they promise to bring.

  • The Master Cleanse – 10 day liquid diet consisting primarily of lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup.  Promises rapid weight loss and toxin removal.
  • LemonAid 48 Hour Detox Diet – 2 day liquid diet consisting of a specific lemonade formula.  Promises a lighter, leaner you.
  • iZO JuiceFeast Cleanse – Liquid diet consisting of organic juice that people can do for any length of time.  Promises everything from quick weight loss to spiritual renewal.
  • 21 Day Clean Detox Program – 21 day program that includes specific shakes, supplements, and one small daily meal consisting of food from an approved list.   Promises to remove common food allergens, rebuild the body, and gain a better understanding of how your body reacts to certain foods.
  • Blueprint Cleanse – 3 day cleanse that features juice all day, two snacks, and a vegetarian meal at dinner.  Promises to relieve stress on the digestive system and alleviate toxins.
  • The Quantum Wellness Cleanse – 21 day program that eliminates alcohol, gluten, added sugar, caffeine, and animal products from the diet.  Promises to kick-start physical and mental wellbeing.

While many experts agree that short cleanses like the LemonAid 48 hour detox or the Blueprint cleanse may not necessarily deliver significant benefit, they also agree that extreme calorie reduction for a few days isn’t going to do any harm either.  But when this kind of extreme calorie restriction goes on for a week or more, concerns are being raised about how that is impacting the body.  But even doing something like the Master Cleanse for 10 days isn’t the real issue nutritionists and experts in this area are worried about.

The concern over the popularity of these cleanses is that when people, especially women, go through one of these programs and experience rapid weight loss from extreme calorie restriction or other temporary benefits, they can become obsessed with cleansing.  This can lead to going through a new cleanse every week or two.  Since most cleanses involve extreme calorie reduction and intake of a very limited group of nutrients, this healthy fad, when taken to extremes, can have serious health consequences.    Some have even raised concerns that this type of behavior may be developing into a new kind of eating disorder.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) defines an eating disorder as a serious emotional and physical problem that involves extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors around weight and food.  Given that definition, it is easy to understand why there are growing concerns about the cleansing craze.  NEDA has recently added a category of eating disorder to their website called Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder that encompasses behavioral patterns where a person fails to take in enough food and experiences serious nutritional deficiencies but without the psychological factors seen with Anorexia Nervosa.  While not specifically related to cleanse craziness, this new disorder seems to encompass the problem that would result from extreme cleansing.

How to Help Busy Teens Eat Better

Food Teens Eating

Help your busy teen still eat healthy by following these easy tips (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Today’s teenagers are busier than ever, running from school to sports to activities to part time jobs.  With all these things to do, their diet can suffer.  Whether they are stopping to grab a sugary soft drink and some cupcakes at the gas station or taking a trip through a fast food drive-thru, our teens may be missing out on the nutrition they need to fuel their bodies and brains.  Make eating right as easy as possible with these easy tips.

1.     Stock Up on Grab-n-Go

There are a wide variety of healthy options that already come packed and ready for on-the-run eating.  Things like yogurt, string cheese, and packages of nuts all come pre-packaged in individual servings.  Have these grab-n-go options available to make it as easy as possible for your teen to eat right.

2.     Nix the Energy Drinks

Energy drinks and sugary soft drinks may provide a momentary boost of energy due to their sugar and caffeine content, but all those empty calories will leave your teen crashing in no time.  Make sure they have easy access to portable water and other low calorie beverage options.

3.     Pre-Pack Snacks

While the single serving snacks from the store are handy, they can really break your budget and may not appeal to your teen’s taste buds.  Try creating your own pre-packaged snacks that feature the foods your teens likes most such as a half sandwich of choice in a sandwich bag, or a ziploc bag of sliced fruit.

4.     Carbs+Protein=Win

The best snacks are those that provide your teen with the energy they need to do what has to be done before the next meal.  Snacks that combine a carb like a cracker and some protein like peanut butter are the most energy efficient.  Make sure your teen has access to these kinds of power-packed snack options.

5.     Breakfast

Start their day off right by making sure they eat breakfast before they leave the house.  Eating breakfast ensures that their brains and bodies will have the energy they need for school. Even nonbreakfast foods such as dinner leftovers can be offered to picky eaters.

6.     Fruit, the Original Portable Snack

Don’t forget about apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, and other fruit that also comes pre-packaged in a single serving size.  While fruits can be high in sugar, they also offer other nutritional components that make them a win for busy teens.

7.     Delay Dinner

The busy schedules of our families’ means that many nights we are not all home at the same time to have a nice sit down dinner.  This only makes it harder for teens to get the food they need to fuel their active lives.  Rather than sticking to a set dinner time, delay dinner so that everyone can have a good home-cooked meal together.

8.     Promote Breakfast

If delaying dinner isn’t an option or if a delay would make your main daily meal fall too late at night, promote breakfast to your family’s main meal instead.  It is more likely that everyone will be home at the same time early in the morning which means it is easier to get everyone around the table for some healthy food and family bonding.

9.     Help Them Sleep

Many teens find themselves in the impossible situation of being squeezed between their biological clock, which makes it impossible to go to bed before 11 or 12 at night, and early morning school start times.  This means they aren’t getting the sleep they need for good health.  Studies have shown that when we are overtired we are more likely to crave and choose sugary, salty, high-fat foods.  Helping your teen find ways to get the sleep they need can make it easier to avoid temptation and improve their overall health and wellbeing.

5 Ways You Can Fight Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a real concern for the longterm health of our teens and adolescents. (photo credit: bigstockphoto.com)

Childhood obesity is a real concern for the longterm health of our teens and adolescents. (photo credit: bigstockphoto.com)

Childhood Obesity Awareness month provides all parents with a great opportunity to take small steps to help combat the obesity epidemic in our children. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  one third of all adolescents in America are either overweight or obese.  At last report by the CDC in 2011, here in Arizona, 11% of our high school students were obese.  There is no question that we must take action now to turn the tide.  At the same time, we, as parents, need to be cautious that we aren’t creating the conditions that make the development of eating disorders more likely in our effort to win the battle of the bulge.

This calls for a balanced approach that focuses more on healthy habits and an active lifestyle than on weight, weight management, and restrictive dieting.  As part of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, here are 5 ways you can fight childhood obesity by putting the focus on living a healthy life.

1.     Involve Everyone

Start by talking to your children about what a healthy lifestyle looks like and brainstorm some ways your family could be healthier.  Once you have some family goals, share that with the other important people in your life.  Tell your parents, siblings, and friends about the changes you are working on and ask for their support.  Let educators, child care providers, coaches, and any others in your life that could impact your family’s ability to achieve these goals know what you are working towards.

2.     Move Together

The best way to get everyone in the family to be more active is to do it together.  Make family time active time by riding bikes, taking karate, learning to kayak, or even just going for a walk as a family. By combining family time and active time, you not only make activity fun for everyone, you set an example of healthy activity for your kids to follow.

3.     Reward Yourselves

Think about how many of the rewards we give ourselves and our children that are tied to food.  Stop doing this.  Look for other ways to reward good behavior, accomplishments in school, and special achievements.  Help your children and yourself by eliminating the link between doing something good and eating a treat.

4.     Back to Basics

One of the benefits of eating dinner at the table as a family is that you tend to eat less than you would if you were eating in front of the TV.  This is true at meal times and when eating snacks.  This practice also gives everyone an opportunity to talk about healthy eating and to reconnect with each other without the impediment of distractions like TV, radio, video games, cell phones, and computers.

5.     Set a Good Example

Setting a good example is not just about eating healthy all the time.  It is also about modeling what to do when things don’t go well.  Making good food choices will help your teens see what and how much to eat.  Seeing how you handle unexpected circumstances and bad days will also show them what to do when things don’t as planned.

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Life is Sweet: Using Natural Sweeteners

Honey

Honey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh life is so sweet!  But, should it be sweetened with agave, honey, sugar, molasses, or Splenda? In my opinion, sweeteners that are natural seem like the best bang for your money. If we eat calorie-containing sweeteners in moderation, like agave, honey, sugar, molasses, or Splenda, we get good flavor with minimal calories.

How They’re Different

One big difference between these sweeteners is ability to bake with them.  One cup of sugar cannot just be swapped out for one cup of sweetener.  For example, to replace one cup of sugar in a baking recipe, use either 3/4 cup of maple syrup, 3/4 cup honey, or 2/3 cup agave nectar and lower the oven temperature 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  Also, reduce the quantity of liquids in the recipe slightly.  These adjustments are needed mostly due to the second difference amongst sweeteners, the sweetness content.  You may be able to use less substance than you would with regular sugar because there is a higher sweetness content.  Agave nectar is an example where less amount is needed because it is approximately 1.4 times sweeter than sugar.

Natural Value

Some sweeteners actually provide more than just yummy, sweet flavor.  Honey and molasses taste good and have vitamins and minerals.  Both honey and molasses contain 4% and 44% of our daily needs of iron, and 3% and 70% of our daily needs of potassium, respectively.

Artificial Debate

There is much we could say about artifical sweeteners such as Splenda. Sugar substitutes are not magic weight loss ingredients.  If you’re aiming to lose weight or prevent weight gain, products with artificial sweeteners rather than with higher calorie table sugar may be an attractive option. On the other hand, some research has suggested that consuming artificial sweeteners may be associated with increased weight, but the cause of weight gain is not yet known.  Another benefit of artificial sweeteners is that they don’t contribute as much to tooth decay and cavities.

So, as you’re sweeting up your dishes, try a lower-calorie, higher nutritional content option of natural sweeteners.

 

Why Diets Don’t Work

Weight and height are used in computing body m...

Research shows that dieting, in the traditional sense, simply doesn’t work. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have a teenager in your house, there is a good chance they are now or have been on a diet.  According to the National Institutes for Health, half of all teenage girls and a quarter of teenage boys have already tried dieting as a way to change their body.  If you take a look at the world from their perspective, it is easy to understand why.  Every image in their world sends the message that being thin makes you attractive, that being thin will make you popular, that being thin is the only way to be happy.  In addition, there is constant coverage of the obesity epidemic, which may add more pressure to go on a diet, lose weight, and change themselves.

Unfortunately, the research shows that dieting, in the traditional sense, simply doesn’t work.  Cutting calories, skipping meals, and restricting food choices can actually have the opposite effect.  For some people, dieting can actually cause weight gain rather than weight loss. The same is true for teens.  In addition, because teens are often dieting to look different rather than to improve their health, they are more likely to set unhealthy weight goals.  In order to help their teens, parents need to understand how their teens see themselves, why they want to lose weight or change their bodies, and what they can do to be supportive while also ensuring their teens aren’t straying into unhealthy territory.

In order to understand the long term effects of dieting, a research team at UCLA looked at data from 31 different studies that collected data for at least a year.  The results were sobering for anyone who is dieting in order to lose weight.  Looking across the studies, the team found that almost 50% of people who dieted and lost weight, gained back more weight than they lost.  In fact, some of the studies showed that as many as two thirds of the participants gained back more than they lost.

The team concluded that there are two primary reasons that diets don’t work.  First, it is very difficult to change how and what we eat.  These behaviors and habits are ingrained in us and the lives we have built support them.  Unless we are able to change our lifestyle and our environment, it is very difficult to change our relationship with food.  Second, the law of diminishing returns comes into play and can sabotage any success we do experience.   This means that if you reduce your caloric intake or cut out a food group, you may lose weight but your body will adjust which means over time you will have to make more significant changes in order to lose more weight.  It also means that maintaining any weight loss will require you to keep the same restrictions.  For most people, this is unmanageable over time.

If your teen is struggling with their weight or is feeling like they need to lose weight, you can be supportive by encouraging them to make lifestyle changes rather than trying the diet of the week.  Teaching teens about healthy eating habits and the importance of exercise in weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight will be key to their feeling, and being, healthier.

7 Secrets to Healthy Summer Snacks

Deutsch: Agricultural Research Service, Photo ...

This summer, buy healthy snack food options for your teen’s go to snack rather than stocking the shelves with unhealthy choices. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With so much attention on preventing both eating disorders and obesity in our teens, summer vacation means more than just a break from school.  For many parents, it also means there are teens home alone all day with no one minding the kitchen.  This summer, help your teen eat healthy even when they are home alone with these 7 secrets to healthy summer snacking.

1.     Plan Ahead

One of the most common reasons that our homes end up packed with unhealthy snacks or with no snacks at all is because we don’t plan for snacks like we do for meals.  Help your teen eat healthier this summer by incorporating snack planning into your normal grocery shopping routine.  This way you can choose snacks conscientiously rather than winding up with bags of chips and boxes of cookies.

2.     Stock Up

Most teenagers won’t go out of their way to procure unhealthy snacks if there are healthy snacks that they like easily available.  This means keeping the kitchen full of the kind of healthy snacks your teen likes to eat.

3.     Check the Labels

Checking the labels is good advice for all your food, but when it comes to buying healthy snacks, it is even more important because sometimes the snacks sold as healthy are not.  Check the labels for high sugar content, lots of fat and additional ingredients.  For example, if you are buying dried fruit, make sure that the contents are made from fruit with nothing else added.

4.     Pick Things They Like

The truth is, if they don’t like it, they won’t eat it.  While your idea of a healthy snack might be a fat free yogurt or an apple, you are only wasting your money if those aren’t things they will actually eat.  Consult your teenager and work together to come up with a list of healthy summer snacks that they will love.

5.     Prep for Portion Control

One of the challenges of healthy summer snacking is that eating too much of anything can be a bad thing, even if it is a healthy snack.  Help teens keep track of and control over their portions by pre-portioning their favorite snacks.  Rather than putting a big bowl of grapes in the fridge, split the grapes up in sandwich bag size portions.  This also works for things that teens like but may not be willing to do themselves like peeling oranges or popping air-popped popcorn.

6.     Availability is Key

If you don’t want your teen indulging in unhealthy snacks, don’t stock up on them.  By stocking the shelves with things that they like that are healthy to eat, you are setting your teen up for success.  But if you buy three bags of cookies, you can’t expect them to choose the healthy snack over the cookies every time.  If you would like the special treat of cookies in the house, buy only one package and stress moderation. Encourage your teen to consume one or two cookies a day, over the span of a few days as a special treat rather than several cookies as snacks repeatedly throughout the day. Bottom line – if you don’t want them to eat it, don’t have it in the house. If you do want it in the house, only have a moderate amount so you aren’t encouraging unhealthy options as a primary choice.

7.     Skip the Sweet Drinks

Soft drinks, juice, energy drinks, all of these are ways that teens can add an enormous number of calories to their summer days.  Encourage them to drink water, low fat milk, and other low calorie non-soft drink options.

How Big a Deal is BMI?

English: 8 women with the same Body Mass Index...

8 women with the same Body Mass Index rating (BMI – 30) but with different weight distribution and abdominal volume, so they have different Body Volume Index (BVI) ratings. Select Research, 09-09-08 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of today’s parents grew up thinking about weight management in terms of calories and pounds.  We all knew how many calories we were supposed to be eating and how many pounds we were supposed to weigh.  We were taught about counting calories but today’s weight management buzzword, BMI, wasn’t part of our weight management vocabulary.  BMI is actually three words, Body Mass Index, and it is a screening tool that can be used to gauge where someone falls on the weight continuum.  It is calculated using your height and weight and shows whether you are underweight, overweight, obese, or at a healthy weight.

With all the buzz about BMI, many parents are left wondering whether or not it is a big deal and how it applies to their teenagers.   Here are the basic facts about BMI.

What is Body Mass Index?

According to the Center for Disease Control, body mass index is a cost effective and reliable method for determining body fatness for people of all ages, including children and teens.  While there are other methods for measuring body fat that are more precise, BMI is a simple, easy, no cost way to screen for possible weight related health problems.

How is it Calculated?

BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by their height squared.  You can easily get your BMI without having to do any math by using the BMI Calculator for adults provided by the CDC.  To find the BMI for a child or teenager, use the CDC’s BMI calculator designed specifically for them.

How is BMI Read?

BMI is represented as a number that corresponds to a specific weight category ranging from underweight to obese.  For children and teens, this number is associated with a percentile that corresponds to where that BMI falls in these categories.  Adolescents with a BMI below the 5th percentile are considered underweight.  Those who fall between the 5th and 85th percentile have a healthy weight.  A BMI from the 85th to the 95th percentile are considered overweight and anyone with a BMI in the 95th percentile and above is obese.

The difference between how BMI is calculated for adults and for adolescents reflects the fact that body fat changes with age and across genders as children grow into adults.

What BMI Should Your Teen Have?

As outlined above, because of the considerable changes experienced as adolescents grow from childhood into adulthood, healthy weight should be gauged by your teenager’s BMI percentile.  Using the BMI calculation and categories specific to teenagers accounts for the differences caused by gender, age, puberty, and height.  If you are concerned that your teenager’s BMI percentile is outside the healthy weight range, it is a good idea to discuss your concerns with their primary care physician or a registered dietitian.  Additional testing may be needed to determine actual body fatness which can be ordered or conducted by these medical professionals.

How to Talk to Teens about Weight

Fat teen staring at junk food

Do you struggle to find the words to talk with your teen about their weight?  (Photo credit: Gaulsstin)

The conflicting messages our society sends about size and weight are all around us.  Whether you are browsing the tabloid rack at the grocery store or flipping through the channels, you can find some super thin celebrity explaining how this system or that system made it incredibly easy to get the body they have.  Every news outlet is talking about how the obesity epidemic is endangering the future of our country while parents wrestle with competing concerns about what is best for their child.  On one hand, they are focused on preventing the development of eating disorders, keeping their teen from being bullied, and worrying about how to get them into a healthier lifestyle.  On the other, they know how important it is to boost their self esteem, be supportive, and be accepting, no matter their size or shape.

If you are wondering how to help your teenager change their habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle without damaging their self esteem, you are not alone.  The truth is most of us adults could do with a healthier lifestyle too.  If you are overweight, self-conscious about your size, always on a diet, or have simply given up, that is the behavior you are modeling for your child.  They see you struggle, give in, and give up while the picture perfect person on TV talks about how easy it is to drop 60 pounds in just 6 weeks with only 60 minutes a day.  The messages that are getting through are not the ones they need in order to do the work required to create and maintain a lifestyle that supports good health.

While talking about weight with your teen may not be any more comfortable than talking about sex with them, it can be just as important.  Most experts recommend a low-key, life encompassing approach.  Rather than having an intervention-style sit down serious talk about weight concerns, look for natural opportunities to discuss good health, healthy weight loss, and to offer assistance and support.   You don’t need to focus on the fact that your teen is overweight, they already know that.  Focus instead on how you can provide a better model to follow and on letting your teen know that you are there for them, are concerned for them, and are willing to help and support them with this struggle.  To help guide your conversation, here are some do’s and don’ts that can make talking to your teen about weight less of a minefield.

  1. Do talk about making healthy choices whenever the opportunity naturally arises.  Shopping for groceries, making meals, planning menus, and doing something active together all provide great natural times to talk about what it takes and means to be healthy.
  2. Do talk to your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have.
  3. Do pay as much attention to who your teen is as you do to what size they are, how they look, or what they are putting in their mouth.
  4. Don’t sugar coat.  No matter what anyone else says, losing weight is hard and it isn’t fun.  Despite the wide range of products that promise otherwise, there is no quick fix and no short cut.   It takes time, patience, and perseverance, commitment, dedication, and focus.
  5. Don’t talk about dieting.  Keep the focus on eating healthy and being active.
  6. Don’t be a food cop or a weight watcher.  You teen needs support, encouragement, and advice not constant monitoring, questioning, and criticism.

If you have any questions about how to best talk with your teen about weight, please don’t hesitate to give us a call and speak with a registered nutritionist.

This Month Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day

Shopping

Consult with a registered dietician for tips on how to consume a healthy diet (Photo credit: USDAgov)

When it comes to knowing what you should be eating and what you should not, there is no one better to ask than a registered dietitian or dietetic technician.  These food and nutrition experts are the MVPs in our war against obesity.  This month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is sponsoring National Nutrition Month to increase awareness about the importance of making healthy food choices based on reliable information and promote the development of good habits around eating and exercise.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every day” which encourages people to adopt healthy eating habits that work for their own individual lives.  By incorporating healthy eating habits into your everyday life and developing your own personalized healthy eating style, you are creating the right conditions to change your relationship with food for the better.  Many people struggle to adopt eating plans and exercise programs from television, videos, and books because those programs are not a good enough fit for their lives.  One of the benefits of working with a nutritional expert like a registered dietitian is that they specialize in creating personalized, individual nutrition plans based on your individual preferences, likes, habits, and history.

You can also establish a personalized eating plan on your own by following these simple steps.

1.     Eat What You Like

In order to eat your way to better health, you need to eat the healthy food that is part of your meal plan rather than spontaneously grabbing the unhealthy food calling your name from the convenience store shelf!  It is much easier to do this if you have already identified healthy options that you like to eat.  If you don’t like what you are eating, it will be harder and harder to stick with your healthy plan over time.

2.     Look at Your Lifestyle

Some of us are active, some of us are not.  Some of us eat meat, some of us do not.  There are many different ways that our lifestyle impacts our food choices.  The key to making sure those choices are healthy ones is knowing how the way you live affects what you eat.

3.     Eat Inside and Outside the Box

Many of the foods we feed our family are inspired by or drawn from our cultural heritage.  Make sure your personalized eating plan includes these favorite foods.  But don’t limit yourself to those foods you grew up eating; you should also look to eat healthy options that are outside your “box” as well.  There is a world of healthy food out there, full of nutrition and flavor, just waiting for you to find it.

4.     Don’t Confuse the Baby and the Bathwater

Just because your favorite dish from childhood could have been named “heart attack on a plate” doesn’t mean you have to skip it.  Try modifying the recipe by doing things like swapping out healthier versions of high fat, high calorie ingredients or using different cooking techniques until you find a version of that fabulous family favorite.  There is no need to give up the food you love, but you may need to change how, when, and how often you eat those foods in order to improve your overall health.

For more information on National Nutrition Month and other ideas on how to eat right, your way, every day, visit the National Nutrition Month website.