is National Nutrition Month, a good time to think about the
reasons many Americans donít eat healthful diets and discover
what they can do about it.
today live a busy lifestyle," Rinker says. "We are
cooking less and less and eating out more and more. We donít
have much time to exercise, and when we are hungry, high-calorie,
high-fat food is cheap and easily available. We Midwesterners,
especially, tend not to develop good eating habits because we are
used to a diet heavy in meat. We may have seen some good
information on nutrition, but we are too busy to really think
good nutrition is even more important for people who are always on
the run. So instead of strict diets with a lot of doís and doníts
to remember, nutritionists today are concentrating on teaching
general guidelines that todayís active Americans can follow more
of the best ways to be sure you are getting the nutrients you need
is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. "We need
about six servings each day," Rinker says. "That sounds
like a lot, but a serving is only one-half cup or one small raw
fruit. If you have a heaping serving of cooked vegetables at one
meal, thatís two or three servings. If you snack on those
enormous apples and bananas we find in the grocery stores these
days, thatís another two or three servings. And the more
variety, the better."
order to stay healthy, bring a "grab and go" lunch to
work instead of eating out. "You can grab a bagel, a piece of
fruit and some fresh vegetables and youíre out the door,"
she says. "Just donít put butter on the bagel."
also recommends taking a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement.
"No matter how well you eat, you probably still need a
supplement. An inexpensive brand of vitamins will work as well as
the most expensive." She suggests checking with a doctor or a
dietitian on vitamin brands.
because you are taking a supplement, however, donít think you
can ignore the fruits and vegetables because there are nutrients
in fruits and vegetables that donít come in a vitamin pill.
"Researchers keep discovering new benefits that can help
prevent diseases such as cancer," she says. "There are
probably nutrients in fruits and vegetables our bodies need that
we donít even know about yet."
recommends buying a variety of fruits and vegetables, either fresh
or frozen, then listing these items and hanging the list on the
refrigerator to remind yourself they are there. "Buying
packaged, pre-cut vegetables makes it more likely that youíll
use them," she notes.
best thing to remember is to drink six glasses of water each day.
"Drinking plenty of water is vitally important," Rinker
believes. "Few people know this, but if you donít have
enough water you will tire more easily, especially if you are
elderly. You may also become constipated. In extreme cases you
will become dehydrated and end up in the hospital. And if you
drink plenty of water, your skin will look much, much better.
Water helps you more than you realize."
keeps a glass of water on her desk when she is working and does
not allow herself to have a coffee or juice in the morning until
she has downed her first glass of water. For those who worry that
six glasses of water will keep them busy all day looking for
restrooms, she points out that the bladder will soon adjust to the
guideline is to cut down on meat. "Eating a lot of meat is
part of the way we Midwesterners grew up, but we need to cut down
to two or three ounces a serving. We should even try for two or
three meatless meals a week, using legumes such as beans and peas
or soy products instead of so much meat. Soy foods are the coming
thing. Like fruits and vegetables, they help us fight disease. At
most meals, decrease the meat and add more vegetables."
soft drinks to two a day will improve oneís nutrition, she says.
Even non-cola drinks can leach calcium out of teeth and bones.
Water is the best drink, she emphasizes.
the food pyramid recommended by the National Dietetic Association
and the National Diabetes Association is a good guide to proper
nutrition, she thinks many people donít understand it. "Itís
not that difficult," she says. "You need to take some time
to sit and study it, and you need to do that before you go to the
grocery store. It can be a good tool for making sound nutritional
the bottom of the pyramid are the foods we should eat the most of
every dayógrains, beans and starchy vegetables. Six or more
servings are recommended. Popular items in this category include
bread (preferably whole wheat), bagels, buns, crackers, cereal,
pasta, potatoes or rice. The next layer of the pyramid is fruits and
vegetables. Three to five servings of vegetables and two to four
servings of fruit are recommended.
the next level up are milk and meat. Two to three servings of each
are suggested. Meat should be fish and poultry more often than beef
or pork, with fat and skin removed. Meat substitutes can be cheese,
eggs, peanut butter and tofu, a soy product.
the top of the pyramid are fats, sweets, and alcohol. These are the
foods we should eat sparingly. The fats we choose should be mostly
unsaturated, meaning fats that are liquid at room temperature.
Saturated fats such as animal products, the ones that can clog our
arteries, are usually solid at room temperature.
points out that maintaining a consistent weight is important.
"Yo-yo diets, where your weight fluctuates up and down, are not
healthy. Americans today are confused about dieting, because so many
of them have found that diets just donít work. We donít really
know why some people gain weight and others donít, but we do know
it isnít all a matter of willpower.
fact, some of the newest programs donít do weigh-ins or count
calories. "Experts are trying to establish guidelines rather
than strict rules. People today need to be realistic about their
weight. Women and girls need to get over the idea that everyone has
to be the size of a supermodel. We must learn to accept our bodies
as they are, though we do need to maintain a healthy weight."
in conjunction with a healthy diet is crucial to weight control.
Those who have trouble finding time for a regular exercise program
should try to get in a little physical activity whenever possible.
At work, climb stairs rather than take elevators and walk up and
down the halls at break time.
present Rinker and her staff are researching new approaches to diet
programs, and in the fall ALMH plants to have a completely new
healthy weight control program to replace the "Lose to
Win" diet classes the hospital has been offering.
Note: ALMH will have a booth at the Community Health Fair on
25 and will hand out recipes for meatless meals and tips on ways to
use soy products. The health fair will be held at the Lincoln Park
District building on Primm Road from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.