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20 Easy Ways to Eat Better Now


In the Philippines, July is always celebrated as Nutrition Month through a Presidential Decree 491signed by the late President Ferdinand Marcos. Filipinos from remote villages to the urban centers around the country, are encouraged to eat a healthy diet. Much of the celebration is usually at the end of July when students, teachers, and school officials celebrate the end of Nutrition Month with a fiesta-like atmosphere. Children and their parents are encouraged to bring Filipino native foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, to school and have those shared to everyone. Here is an article by Dr. Tyrone M. Reyes from his “An Apple A Day Column” on “20 Easy Ways to Eat Better Now.”

1) Use the smallest plate that will accommodate your food. Nutrition concern is controlling calories, so nutrition experts emphasize portion control. A large plate begs to be filled edge to edge; smaller plates train your eyes to serve up smaller portions.

2) Forget “family style.” Another idea to keep portions in check while also discouraging a second helping is to serve from the stove instead of putting a serving bowl on the table.

3) Make double vegetables – and serve them first. Instead of making vegetables an afterthought, try making veggies the focus of your cooking creativity. Whatever vegetable dish you whip up, make extra for a return engagement later in the week, so you can serve two vegetables. Serve the veggies first, so they dominate the plate and there’s less room for the meat.

4) Think before you spread. Newer whole-grain breads are tasty, without the added calories and fat of butter or margarine. A tablespoon of butter, olive oil or margarine adds 90 calories; even “heart-healthy” spreads contain 70 calories that your waistline might be healthier without.

5) Go vegetarian one night a week. Nutrition experts suggest planning one meatless meal a week. Vegetarian meals can help you cut back on saturated fats and increase your intake of fiber.

6) Brew your own cold beverages. It means iced tea, of course. Nutritionists suggest avoiding high-calorie soft drinks and sweetened juices by keeping home-brewed iced tea in the fridge and serving with lemon. Homemade Iced tea has no calorie or artificial ingredients, and provides beneficial phytochemicals.

7) Sip your minerals. Another beverage strategy is keeping mineral water on hand and drinking it, with a wedge of lemon or lime, in lieu of caloric sodas. Besides cutting calories, mineral water contains small amounts of calcium and magnesium that add up with regular use.

8) Switch from whole milk to low-fat or skim. If you’re already drinking 2% milk, see if you can make the change to skim, whole milk also contains saturated fat and excess calories that you definitely don’t need. Research from the Women’s Health Study showed that increased intake of low-fat dairy products reduced the risk of developing high blood pressure; those consuming high-fat dairy, however, saw no similar benefit.

9) Take your coffee “black.” This means skip the cream and sugar. Dosing your coffee rather than sipping it straight is a prime example of “drinking your calories.” In moderation, caffeine has been associated with a range of possible health benefits — but any such pluses are quickly outweighed by the minuses of added calories. It is estimated that only about 35 percent of people drink their coffee black, which means the rest of us are starting the day with extra calories (33 from two teaspoons of sugar and another 20 from a tablespoon of half-and-half) and saturated fat (one gram per tablespoon of half-and-half). Can’t stand it straight? Try gradually shifting to 2% and then skim milk instead of cream.

10) Don’t put a salt shaker on the table. Fine restaurants often omit the salt shaker, reasoning that the chef has seasoned the food just right back in the kitchen. Too much sodium — is associated with a risk of high blood pressure.

11) Eat fish every Friday. Most experts advise eating fish — especially varieties like salmon, which is rich in omega-3s, twice a week, so designating one weekly “fish night” is a good start.

12) Cook in vegetable oil instead of butter. This simple switch can slash your intake of saturated fat, which contributes to unhealthy cholesterol levels and heart disease. Opt for monounsaturated fats like olive oil or polyunsaturated fat like canola and soybean oil, which have the added advantage of a higher “smoke point” than olive oil or butter.

13) Opt for nonstick pans. If you don’t need to coat the pan with oil to keep the food from sticking, you can use much less or leave the oil on the counter altogether. To minimize concerns about possible chemical emissions from nonstick cookware, choose heavier pans, keep temperatures under 500 degrees, and don’t preheat pans empty. For high-temperature cooking, good old cast-iron pans are virtually “nonstick” if properly seasoned.

14) Put your meat on a diet. Buying leaner cuts — along with trimming visible fat to avoid calories as well as saturated fat. The leanest beef and pork cuts include round steaks, roasts, top loin, top sirloin, chuck shoulder, arm roasts, pork cut choices include pork loin, tenderloin, and center loin.

15) Dress your salads lightly. A heavy hand with salad dressing, especially the creamy kind, can turn a “healthy” salad into an artery-clogging bowl of calories. Go light on the salad dressing, relying on more flavorful vinegars.

16) Drain and rinse canned beans. One simple salt-fighting strategy is to drain and rinse canned beans before using. Processed foods are one of the biggest sources of sodium in our diet, so when you must open a can for convenience, get rid of as much of the added salt as you can.

17) Eat breakfast. Studies have consistently shown that people who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to gain weight.

18) Put away the TV trays. Studies have associated higher levels of TV watching with a greater risk of obesity, and only part of that is due to couch potatoes’ lack of physical activity. It’s also partly because of mindless eating, not really paying attention to the food and savoring it. A good rule is to eat only in your kitchen or dining room.

19) Slow down. It can take 20 minutes for the food you eat to be digested enough for the glucose to enter the bloodstream and your body to start registering a sense of “fullness.”

20) Don’t expose yourself to excess. Sounds obvious. but it’s obviously not always adhered to. “All you can eat” buffets and other sumptuous spreads that offer a surfeit of choices encourage overconsumption of foods as well as beverages. It’s only natural to try “just a bite” of everything and all those bites add up. When eating out, skip the buffet and order from the menu.


Article: by Dr. Tyrone M. Reyes (Column on PhilStar)