In part I of our series, we looked into BMI, calories, exercise and fat in our diet. In part II , we examined the role of sugar and carbohydrates. In part III , we reported on antioxidants and the combined impact of sugar and fat. In the final part, we recommend dietary habits for life.
“Getting to and maintaining an appropriate body mass index (BMI) takes work, but the pathway is clear,” says LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni. “We have to moderate the amount that we eat while steadily changing what we consume toward a more healthy mix of food and beverages. After examining the roles that fat, sugar, carbohydrates and antioxidants play in a healthy diet, we now look at some dietary habits that can change your life.”
Portion control is important in controlling calorie intake. Manage how much you put on your plate and watch out for those large servings that many restaurants provide. Take time to enjoy your meal, and don’t go back for seconds. If you’re still hungry after 30 minutes, allow yourself a small snack. Chances are, however, you won’t be because your brain has had time to receive your body’s signal that it’s satisfied.
Everyone enjoys food, but it’s often eaten in conjunction with other activities like watching television. If you’re distracted by TV, you won’t pay as much attention to the food. Not only will you enjoy it less, you’re likely to eat faster and eat more than you need.
Snacking and Dessert
Snack foods are full of salt, sugar and fat, and most provide little nutritional value. That said, it is possible to snack in a healthy manner. Set limits and avoid bingeing.
Desserts are wonderful, but they have to be managed. Pig out on that rare special occasion, but otherwise, eat small portions. Moderation is the key.
If you’re worried about hunger, remember that you can eat all the vegetables you want. And as you incorporate more of these foods into your diet, you may be able to embrace vegetarianism for one dinner a week. Another good idea is to eat fish for one or more dinners each week.
If you’re in the habit of cooking dinner, you’re a step ahead of many others who seldom cook or don’t know how. They are at the mercy of restaurants and fast food establishments whose goal is to sell more product. If you eat out, avoid “supersizes.” Also, remember that you don’t have to clean everything off those big restaurant plates.
You don’t have to master gourmet cooking to gain the advantages of cooking at home. The greatest benefit is the ability to curtail the amount of unhealthy food in your diet (you’ll also save money). Use your grill for meats and vegetables. Choose healthier canned, jarred and packaged products to round out your meals.
Habits for Life
The diet you maintain for your family is the one that shapes your children’s tastes and habits. When you consider your BMI, look at your kids’ as well. Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. and Canada. As you mold your kids’ tastes, you can retrain your own as well. By slowly cutting back on sweet and salty food, your tastes adjust. You don’t crave it so much.
“You are what you eat,” says Sabitoni. “This axiom has never been so apparent. It’s never too late to get moving in the right direction.”
More information is available in the Fund’s publications: Nutrition and Fitness for Laborers, Becoming Physically Active and Weight Matters. Order them through the online Publications Catalogue.