Saturday, April 30, 2011

Food Guidelines Updated

The U.D. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have gone back to basics and are making changes, it's about time!

I read this article on April 13 in the newspaper, it is by Jennifer Gish.

Here are a few of their "discoveries", ones most of us health conscious folks have known for ages.

Watch your portion sizes. Drink skim or 1 percent milk. The number of calories you consume and the number you burn should be balanced. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And you've got to cut back on your sodium.

Here are some of the highlights: Don't blame the shaker. It's not just canned soup and frozen meals. Sodium -- which the guidelines say you should limit to less than 2,300 milligrams a day or 1,500 milligrams a day if you're 51 or older, black or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease -- is found in unexpected places, like your morning toast. 

According to the USDA's report on the guidelines, the highest individual source of sodium in the American diet is yeast breads (7 percent), followed by chicken and chicken mixed dishes and pizza. But don't toss out that loaf of whole wheat yet (even though Ingoldsby says whole wheat bread contains slightly more sodium than white). It's more about how much bread we eat than the bread's sodium content. The key to reducing your sodium intake, Ingoldsby says, is by eating fewer processed foods, which tend to be sodium-rich. It can be as simple as shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the center aisles, where many of the processed products are sold. 

Two and a half cups? You can do it. It's never any trouble when it's ice cream. The guidelines say to eat more fruits and vegetables. Research says taking in at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and fruits (five servings) a day has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

The guidelines say to avoid oversized portions. They're not just talking about polishing off a pint of ice cream in one sitting. Our society has a case of portion distortion. You may know that the bottle of Pepsi you drank with lunch was 2.5 servings, but did you realize you poured a triple serving of Special K into your cereal bowl that morning? One serving of the cereal is just 1 cup. Dump it into a measuring cup for a while until you get used to what it looks like in your bowl. (Your cupped hand is a quick way to measure 1/2 cup. A fistful is roughly a cup, Ingoldsby says.) 

Fortunately, most people need two servings of grains in the morning, so either double the cereal or eat a piece of toast, too. And if you're afraid your properly portioned meals aren't enough to fuel you through the day, consider what you're eating. A balanced diet -- with all of the needed fiber, protein and nutrients -- will make you feel full, Ingoldsby says.
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