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Friday, January 18, 2008

Common Sense Tips for Eating

An article by Michael O'shea in Parade hits on many cylinders. Here's essentially what he has to say, in summary.

Avoid fad diets, particularly those that encourage drastic calorie reduction. Drastically cutting back on your daily calorie intake only tells your body one thing. That you're in starvation mode and your metabolism should slow down in the attempt to hold on to its fuel reserves, i.e. fat.

Reduce your intake of processed foods. Excellent advice and common sense advice as well. Processed foods typically contain lots of salt and sugar. And, from a dietary consumption standpoint, you need little of either added to your food. Too much sodium can, in fact, raise your blood pressure and too much sugar can spike your blood sugar, leaving you hungrier and feeling rundown.

Get more fiber in your diet. This is important for the sake of gastrointestinal well-being. How do you get more fiber? You can try metamucil. But a better approach is by replacing some of the low fiber foods in your daily diet with high fiber alternatives. And some of the foods he lists are foods that are high on my personal list of favorites, including spinach, almonds, and apples (green granny smiths are my personal choice and my ferret's as well).

More fiber in your diet can help you avoid constipation, can lower your cholesterol, and can help you keep "things moving along" in your intestinal tract. And that last item is important for not allowing carcinogens to sit for too long.

Realize that fat is a valid component of your dietary intake. There's no problem with fat, as long as its the good stuff. Omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, such as can be found in walnuts and fish.

Eat beakfast. This is the first meal of the day and, arguably, the most important one. Including milk in it is a good idea since far too many of us lack the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin d, and having your breakfast lean more toward lean protein versus carbohydrates is also a good idea (you'll feel more full, more satisfied, and you won't experience the sugar rush "pancake and syrup" phenomenon of feeling energized and then later listless.

All in all, his recommendations boil down to common sense and a lot of common advice that we've heard over the last couple of decades. In my own opinion, though supplements can be useful, particularly when certain nutrients in specific quantity are difficult to obtain from a standard diet, the best route to staying healthy and fit comes through A) healthy eating and B) a physical fitness regimen.

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