Fighting back against things like cancer and obesity can be as simple as improving your diet. That’s why on November 7, the American Cancer Society is encouraging you and your family to eat right for National Eating Healthy Day 2012. When time, money and energy are tight, putting together a well-balanced meal is often on the cutting board. But you can’t afford not to eat healthy!
The effects of junk-food and an oversized diet are frightening. American Indians and Alaska Natives are 1.6 times as likely to be obese as non-Hispanic whites, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Minority Health. All of that extra poundage dramatically increases the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and premature cancer deaths.
Harvard-trained Dr. Sunshine Dwojak, an enrolled member of the Delaware and Rosebud Sioux tribes, says despite the struggles faced by many American Indians and Alaskan Natives, there is hope: “The community is really supportive of one another; people really want to know what they can do to prevent cancer.” Speaking as a mother, she adds, “We try to make health a priority by setting a good example—cooking nutritional meals and being active together shows children that we value these lifestyle choices, too.”
1) Stock up right. Eating healthy is easy when wholesome ingredients are on hand. Start with a trip to the grocery store to stock up for a kitchen full of whole-grains, lean meats and fresh produce. For a basic guide to healthy eating, check out this recommended shopping list.
2) Ditch dashboard dining. Instead of that 690-calorie breakfast bagel sandwich in the morning, prepare your own travel-friendly snacks like apples and veggie wraps or drinkable yogurts. Not only will ready-to-go food fill you with better nutrients and fewer calories, your budget will feel the difference, too.
3) Count your fruits and veggies! Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more, the American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 2.5 cups each day. Start each meal by filling your plate with veggies or get those five servings in as quick-and-easy, on-the-go snacks. The more colorful, the better!
4) Swap out for whole grains. For cooking or baking recipes, substitute whole-wheat flour for up to half of the white flour called for. Add bran or oatmeal to baked goods when possible and try whole wheat pasta to cut back on your intake of refined carbohydrates, sugar and fat.
5) Mark your progress. Keeping track of your eating habits will help you identify where you can do better. Include the whole family in getting enough fruits and veggies, cutting back on high-calorie foods, and monitoring portion sizes. For access to a free "Calorie Calculator" and other tools, visit ChooseYou.com.
6) Think small. Avoid super-sized portions of red meat and grains that will pack on the pounds and increase your risk for disease. Keep vegetables as the focus of your meal, adding meat and grain as compliments. Find a complete list of easy-to-remember portion comparisons here.
7) Think outside the carry-out box! You don’t have to go far to find new ideas for nutritious meals. Try flavorful, fun recipes that the whole family will enjoy. Stay up to date on the latest by reading the ChooseYou.com blog at http://blog.chooseyou.com/.