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Ester Marsh: Eating healthy doesn’t mean boring

Q: Do I have to become a health nut to lose weight and keep it off?
A: If you mean never eat junk food again, never miss a workout and only eat no-fat, no-taste foods, then the answer is no. If we would have to live that way, life would sure seem long.
Of course there are people out there that due to health conditions have to be on an extremely strict diet. (However, a diet that has been recommended by a doctor or set up by a registered dietitian is very important to stick to.)
For you, the people who want to better their eating habits but want to be able to live and enjoy forbidden foods once in a while, the following works for me.
First of all, I try to stick with the serving sizes recommended by the USDA. Your calorie intake needs depend on your age, gender, and activity level, among other factors. Again, the website I recommended last week, www.choosemyplate.gov will give you all this information, too, and will calculate your calorie needs when you put in all your information.
Typically:
For grains, (and, yes, your body needs carbohydrates) about six servings of grains are needed. Make at least half of your grains whole. One big bowl of cereal is more than one serving, and a 6-inch sub can be 4-6 servings of grains.
For vegetables, (and I have never met anyone who gained weight on just vegetables) try five serving sizes, and eat more dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and dark green lettuce, as well as orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. But watch out for a salad piled with bacon, cheese, croutons and dressings. They add lots of ěother,î which is mainly high fat content with lots of calories.
For fruits, 2-4 servings are needed. Choose a variety of fruits and pick the fresh ones that are in season. Go easy on fruit juices.
For the milk group, shoot for 3-4 servings. Choose low-fat or fat-free when choosing milk, yogurt and other milk products. If you canít tolerate milk products, choose lactose free and/or calcium fortified foods and beverages.
When it comes to the meat and bean group, this country loves its meats. Huge serving sizes just on one sub or sandwich are normal, but it puts us way over our daily recommended serving size of 2-3 servings. (One serving being a piece of meat or chicken the size of your palm of your hand.). Bake, broil or grill, and choose low-fat meats and poultry. Vary your protein intake with fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
I really try to get in all my food groups with the correct serving sizes. One time, when I was logging my food intake, I was shocked I did not take in enough fruits and vegetables. I love them.
It is all about awareness of what you are putting into your body. I will have ice cream, though not very often. I will eat ribs, loaded baked potato and steamed vegetables once in a while.
I use less butter and oil, making food tasty with herbs and spices. I do not even own a deep-fryer but love it once in a blue moon, so I will buy a bucket of fried chicken.
A healthy variety of foods, low-fat yet tasty, adequate serving sizes and a calorie intake matching your bodyís burn rate (if you want to stay the same weight) is not a horrible life sentence.
It is the recipe for feeling and looking great. And of course, an occasional piece of cheese cake is definite part of this ěnot a health nutî lifestyle. I just love to be healthy.
Ester H Marsh ACSM Cpt

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