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Ester Marsh column: Eating healthy

So what is healthy eating?

Our diets have been challenged, especially during this pandemic. Most people have been at home a lot, and have been roaming around the house for things to eat. Myplate.gov is a free site that can customize your eating plan with the click of a button. If you know your diet isn’t the best, start meal planning. And believe me, healthy foods can be very tasty.

I was talking to someone the other day and he mentioned that since he has a job he can eat healthier again. That is so sad to me, but he is right. Junk food is a lot cheaper than healthy, fresh alternatives. Fortunately, lots of people started gardens again and our farmers market has returned. However, I am longing for the time where healthy foods are cheaper than unhealthy, junk foods. Healthy eating is doable. You just need to plan and look for sales and special deals.

So what does a typical healthy plate look like? First, make sure the plate is not too big! It’s also about portion control. Imagine your plate in three sections. A quarter of the plate has healthy whole grains (whole-grain pastas, brown rice, whole wheat bread, small yam) about 6 to 11 servings throughout the day and pick whole grains when you can; a quarter has healthy protein (poultry, beans, nuts, fish, some red meat, eggs, tofu, some cheese), about 5 to 6½ ounces throughout the day. The other half of your plate is mostly vegetables and fruits (not dripping in all kind of sauces, dips and cheeses), and fries do not count! Right now, Patterson Farm’s strawberries are fabulous! Because of the time it’s picked or harvested, local produce is always fresher and very tasty. Try to stay away from processed and fatty foods. Again, my plate.gov can help you manage through the difficulties of picking the right kinds of foods and it’s free.

How about serving sizes? One plate does not mean one serving. Even eating perfectly healthy foods, eating too much still makes you gain weight. It’s all about calorie intake and calorie usage (more about that next week). Be aware what you put on your plate and in your mouth. Are you getting enough vegetables? How about fruit? Maybe too many fried foods? Are you eating fast food every day? To make healthy eating manageable and affordable, planning your meals is the way to go. What, when and how much. And healthy eating is important for the whole family, even when they do not need to lose weight. Juvenile diabetes has skyrocketed during this pandemic, but it’s never too late to start a healthy eating lifestyle with your whole family.

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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