Food, Fitness, and Fun
Have reports of American's expanding girth and the obesity epidemic made food, fitness, and fun a thing of the past? Don't despair -- food and being fit CAN be fun. In fact, it should be fun.
Encourage kids -- young and old -- to succeed in a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating exercise and fitness into your lifestyle will help build lifelong health plus reduce stress and improve your mood, too.
Aim, Build, and Choose
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlight the important messages to:
- Aim for fitness -- that means aim for a healthy weight and be physically active every day.
- A healthy weight is key to a long, healthy life.
- Engage in 30 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
- Build a healthy base. Let the Food Guide Pyramid show you how. Get the vitamins, minerals, energy, and other healthful substances from foods your body needs.
There are many healthful eating patterns. Different people like different foods and like to prepare the same foods in different ways.
- Choose a variety of foods to help you get all the nutrients and fiber you need.
- Choose sensibly. Choose a diet that is low in fats (especially saturated) and cholesterol and moderate in total fat.
- Choose low-fat dairy products, cooked dried beans and peas, fish, and lean meats and poultry.
- Check out the recipe for Creamy Peanut Sauce (below) -- use it as a dip for fruits and veggies, toss with cooked pasta or spread over chicken, or add into your favorite stir-fry.
What is the right fat?
The Guidelines encourage a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat. Healthy choices for fats are mono or polyunsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil, peanuts, peanut butter, and fatty fish. Mono and polyunsaturated fats do not raise blood cholesterol.
Where to start?
If you replace saturated fats in your diet with mono or polyunsaturated fats you may lower heart disease risk. Small portions go a long way. Use peanut butter on bagels or toast; snack on peanuts or make a healthful trail mix with dried fruit; and use olive-oil, canola, or peanut-oil based dressings on your salads.
Load Up on Nutrients, Not on Big Portions
The best way to get a variety of nutrients into your diet is to make every calorie count. Choosing foods that are nutrient dense will help protect against disease and keep you healthy. Mother Nature has created many foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytosterols (plant chemicals important to health). Fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, beans, and nuts, including peanuts, contain important nutrients like niacin, folic acid, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and vitamin E.
Be active every day, any way you can. Try to make fitness part of your regular routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking to the store instead of driving. Walk with your dog, bike with a family member, garden with a kid, and dance with a friend. Remember, a little physical activity throughout the day can go a long way!
Balancing energy intake (calories) with energy output is key. Energy balance is important for kids and adults alike.
Creamy Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup regular peanut butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tablespoons hot water
Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well using a wire whisk. Can be stored covered in refrigerator for several days.
Use as a dip for fruit and veggies, pour over cooked pasta or chicken, or add into your favorite stir-fry.
Sources: American Diabeties Association, National Peanut Board