National Nutrition Month in the U.S. Nutrition will get a lot
of exposure in the next few weeks: It's a good reminder for us to take
care of ourselves.
One of the first things experts tell us is - Don't Skip Breakfast! This
can lead to obesity over time.
You can see how this happens: You miss a
meal during the time of day you're the most active. Then if you eat
later in the day, when you are less active, your body will store that
Joan Smith, a hospital dietitian says, "We need a reminder of the
constants: Limit fast foods. Bring a brown bag lunch to work instead of
grabbing fast food, processed foods, that are high in fat and sodium. We
may think we have a reasonable amount of sodium. Patients tell me all
the time, 'I watch my diet. I don't use salt.' Yet they still can have
high sodium just from eating processed food."
Smith points out how as we grow older we are more prone to constipation.
"To avoid this, drink eight cups of non-caffeine fluids daily. Caffeine
can cause birth defects in the unborn (Ed. Note: though some recent studies are less conclusive; ask your doctor). Caffeine is a stimulant; it does affect our heart rate.
"As it starts getting warmer, many of us drink a lot of iced tea. Aside
from the caffeine it may contain, tea is high in tannic acid which
blocks iron consumption. This is especially bad for pregnant women and
for growing kids."
Nutrition greatly affects state of mind. You are what you eat, not just
physically, but mentally. Poor nutrition and lack of carbohydrates can
lead to depression and memory difficulty.
Energy directly relates to what we eat and drink. Lack of energy is
often due to poor diet. Carbohydrates, starches and natural sugars,
supply the body with energy. Simple carbohydrates (sugars) give a quick
peak of energy that often ends in a crash or slump when the carbs are
used up. Complex carbohydrates in whole-grains, potatoes, rice, and
pasta, provide the slow-burning fuel to get you through a longer haul.
Habit is hard to change. For those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs,
many have the misconception that the drugs alone will correct the health
problem. This can lead to a 'Now I can [continue to] eat anything I
want' attitude. Untrue. Medicines adjust about thirty percent of the
problem. The rest needs to be modified through exercise and nutrition.
When making our nutritional choices at the grocery store, North American
shoppers now can make informed choices. Since 1989, in response to
consumer pressure, the Food and Drug Administration has required
increasingly detailed labels for food. Packages now display information
about the nutritional content, ingredients (including additives), and
the definition of serving size.
Although we have made progress in labeling, in our industrial society
it's not always easy to get the nutrients we need from food; we have a tendency to overprocess
harvested food, in the process polish off nutrients. Unfortunately, that 2% of iron from the bag of Doritos(TM) in your kitchen isn't the answer to a new iron supplement for your diet!