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Ester Marsh column: Food is not your enemy

I am not a licensed nutritionist nor do I claim to be a nutrition expert. What I do know is well-balanced eating through years of experience, and I try to educate myself as much as possible about nutrition. Choosemyplate.gov is an excellent resource of free solid nutritional information that I like to use for my own nutrition. I also read Runner’s World magazine which has great recipes and ideas for runners/athletes. Of course, you can find all sorts of healthy, great tasting recipes on the internet. You have to feed your muscles and organs the nutrition that they need. Coming from the Netherlands where we do not super size anything, I understand why it is so hard to eat correctly. It’s cheaper to pick from the dollar menu than to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. However, it will hurt your wallet when you go to the doctor more often because of an unhealthy eating habit.

So why does food need to be your friend?

• You have to eat to survive. Many people seem to take better care of their car than their body. Common sense tells us that if we eat a bacon cheese biscuit for breakfast, a triple (bypass…) hamburger for lunch and pizza for dinner, it was a bad day for nutrition. Fortunately, even for people “on the go” there are better options to pick from. Look at your body and treat it as your car — would you put oil in the gas tank? Educate yourself and plan and I believe anyone can eat nutritiously on any budget with the correct planning.

• See what works for you. There are truly the meat and potato men and women and the no carbs people or vegetarian only, so make sure you get the nutrition you need. Find what works for you. If you feel horrible, you may not be very pleasant to be around (due to your diet). Your diet needs to be a lifestyle, and to many, a lifestyle change. Start again with baby steps and make small changes.

• Food is not your enemy. So many times I see people cringe when food is served, especially if it’s not on “their diet.” Weight Watchers seems to be very effective. It seems to be the only weight loss program that teaches people to choose better foods and portion control. When you learn that, you know choices to make or what you need to do to burn the extra calories or to prepare yourself when you will visit a calorie high event. The 4th of July holiday is right around the corner and I love getting together with my dear friends and family. Food will bring anyone together!

Enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Treasure your gatherings with family and friends and, most of all, appreciate the foods you eat. They are the nourishment to your body.

Ester H Marsh Health & Fitness Director JF Hurley Family YMCA

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