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Campaign focuses on diet, exercise – Leader

“Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” is this year’s National Nutrition Month message encouraging everyone to make healthful food choices and get daily activity.

A healthy lifestyle begins with what we eat and drink, how much physical activity we are able to do and how we take care of ourselves mentally.

No specific diet or exercise program will work for everyone because each person has a unique lifestyle.

We need to tailor our diet and exercise program to fit our needs. If you control your environment, you will have what you need to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Be “mindful” — take time to sit down and truly enjoy what you are eating.

Fill up on good fuel

Food is energy. The energy we choose to put into our bodies will affect our physical and mental well-being.

Fill your refrigerator and cupboards with healthful options.

Choose foods that contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but not many calories. Avoid the “empty-calorie” offerings that are less healthful.

Prepare foods that fit into your cultural and ethnic traditions. You will be most likely to eat foods you enjoy preparing and serving. Have children help make meals, and take advantage of this “teachable moment” to discuss food preparation, different cultures and your own traditions.

Select foods that are appropriate for any health concerns you have. A registered dietitian can help you choose appropriate foods if you have questions or health concerns such as high blood pressure, cardiac disease or obesity.

Try to fill your plate half full of fruits and vegetables, one quarter full of lean protein (poultry, fish, beef, tofu, cheese or beans) and one quarter full of whole grains such as breads, rice, pastas, crackers or cereals.

Carefully plan what snacks you will eat during the day. Healthful choices include vegetables, fruits, a hard-boiled egg with a small serving of cheese and an apple or a small handful of nuts. Including protein in your snacks may keep your hunger under control longer.

Replace high-calorie sodas, sport drinks, and coffees with water.

Cut down on processed foods by cooking more of your own meals. Preparing your own foods allows you to eliminate high sodium amounts and control calories. If you do eat out at a restaurant, choose foods within your eating plan.

Burn off calories

Incorporating physical activity into your day can improve your physical and mental health.

Some of the benefits include:

• Time spent with family or friends.

• Increased energy.

• Better sleep.

• Weight control.

• Enhanced physical stability at any age.

• Enjoyment of something we like to do.

Any amount of exercise is valuable, even just 10 minutes of walking or stretching. Enjoy your healthy lifestyle and make a commitment to stick with it.

Sullivan, a registered dietitian, is a food service manager for the Eau Claire school district. She is a member of the Chippewa Valley Dietitians.

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