Eating a balanced diet is vital to our well-being. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, boost your energy level, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall good health.
We know that eating habits have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Roughly one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese and approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. However, even for people at a healthy weight, a poor diet is associated with major health risks that can cause illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and type 2 diabetes.
One of the smartest nutrition choices you can make is to stay away or limit added sugars in your diet. Whole foods like fruits, veggies, dairy, and grains have natural sugars. Your body digests those carbs slowly so your cells get a steady supply of energy. Added sugars, on the other hand, come in packaged foods and drinks. Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar and absolutely no nutritional benefit.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. However, the average American far exceeds these limits with 22 teaspoons a day (88 grams).
Dietary habits established in childhood often carry into adulthood, so teaching children how to eat healthy at a young age is critical. Have fun with these games where children learn about the value of good nutrition.
There is a great deal of attention paid today to reading the labels on our foods, but who really knows what it all means? Visit the Food & Drug Administration to better understand calories, nutrient values, serving sizes, etc. so you can make smart food choices.
There is no doubt that eating a healthy diet makes a difference. Sometimes, though, we just aren’t clear about which foods provide what nutrients. Nutrition.gov offers an easy to understand breakdown to help you sort it all out.
Visit https://www.eatright.org/ for helpful information for all groups, from toddlers to seniors, and a breakdown by gender of ways to improve your nutrition. Eating healthy on a budget can be done. Visit MyPlate.gov for resources and tips.
Did You Know?
The difference in color of fruits and vegetables is caused by nutrients that influence their pigmentation. You can get greater nutritional benefit by remembering the “fruit and vegetable rainbow” and eating a variety of colors.