Buffalo News Refresh – February 2017

Put a fork in your bad eating habits during National Nutrition Month

by: Holly R. Layer

It’s National Nutrition Month!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants you to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” as we gear up to celebrate this month. I love that play on words; isn’t putting our best foot – or fork – forward something we want to do in all areas of our lives every day?

Here are some ways you can put your best fork forward today:

Prioritize eating healthy, flavorful foods: I can’t tell you how many times I have to choose between pizza and soda at my in-laws’ and a healthier option I bring from home, but I can tell you which choice makes me feel better on the inside and the outside – the healthier one.

Embrace cooking at home and experiment with new foods: Try one new recipe a week that features something new to you, whether it’s spaghetti squash instead of noodles, or subbing quinoa for your morning oatmeal.

Keep your portions – including those of healthy foods – appropriate: By using MyPlate as a guide, you should fill half your plate with fruits or vegetables, a quarter with protein and the other quarter with a grain or starch.

Be active: Find a physical activity you like, such as group exercise classes or speed walking around your neighborhood, and get moving at least four days a week.

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight: If you need help, find a registered dietitian!

Don’t forget! Registered Dietitian Day is Wednesday.

Q. I keep hearing about BMI.  What is it and what does it mean?

Your BMI is your Body Mass Index.  It’s a ratio of your weight to your height.  You can do a complicated equation on your calculator, but it’s easier to simply use an online BMI calculator (I like the one from NIH).

 There are four categories of BMI: Underweight (< 18.5), Normal weight (18.5-24.9), Overweight (25-29.9) and Obese (> 30).

A person’s BMI is used as a screening tool, and it’s important to keep in mind that it does not take into account an individual’s muscle mass. For example, a football player or body builder will have a high BMI because they have more than average muscle for their height.  However, average individuals should not use that caveat as an excuse not to address a high BMI.

Because nearly 70 percent of the United States is either overweight or obese, it’s important for individuals to be aware of the impact their weight has on their health. Extra weight, especially around the midsection  – “abdominal obesity’ – increases your risk for various comorbidities, including a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and elevated blood lipids.

So, what can you do to take responsibility for your own health?

First, jump on the computer and calculate your BMI using your current height and weight. If your BMI is greater than 25, I challenge you to make achieving a “normal” BMI one of your goals this year.

Ready for another acronym? Enter IBW.  It stands for Ideal Body Weight. Your ideal body weight is based on gender and height and is easy to figure out.

For women, start with 100 pounds for 5 feet of height and add 5 pounds for each additional inch. Example: a 5-foot-4 woman’s IBW is 120 pounds.

For men, start with 106 pounds for 5 feet of height and add 6 pounds for each additional inch. Example: a 6-foot-2 man’s IBW is 190 pounds.

Just like BMI, IBW doesn’t take a person’s body type, muscle mass or overall fitness into account. For some, IBW isn’t realistic, however it is reasonable for most people to maintain their weight within 10 to 15 pounds of their IBW.

Lastly, even a 5 percent to 10 percent weight loss can yield health benefits. I can’t stress that enough.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re 50 pounds away from your IBW; weight loss is a journey and you aren’t on a deadline. First, identify whether you’re at a healthy weight for your height and, if not, take steps to achieve a healthy weight. Start by putting your best fork forward, today. You’re never more than one meal away from being back on track.

Holly R. Layer is a registered dietitian and a freelance writer. She works as a clinical dietitian at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda and teaches fitness classes at the Southtowns Family Branch YMCA. She lives in East Aurora with her husband, Andrew, a village native. She blogs at thehealthypineapple.com and her work appears monthly in the online version of Refresh. Send her nutrition-related questions at refresh@buffnews.com.  

National Nutrition Month

I realize I’m a little late in the game (like, 18 days late) for this, but it’s National Nutrition Month!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) celebrates NNM each March and uses it as a campaign to educate anyone who will listen about healthy eating.  For those who don’t know, it is AND (through their accrediting arm) that ‘registers’ dietitians.  I’m a member now as a student, and will be an RD in just a few short months!

I actually wrote a blog post for the Buffalo News Refresh section (spoiler alert–I was going to write a separate blog post about that–it will be forthcoming), which will go live tomorrow.  Again, better late than never.

Below is what I wrote, but be sure to check out the Buffalo News Refresh blog (toward the bottom) to see my post.  I’ll have more soon on my blogging opportunities as well.

Also, be sure to check out the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ first Public Service Announcement promoting Registered Dietitians here!

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle

Every March since 1973, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has dedicated time to increase awareness about making healthy choices and increasing physical activity. It began as a week-long campaign and lengthened to a month in 1980. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, also in March, recognizes RDNs as nutrition experts who are uniquely qualified to provide nutrition services to the public.

This year, National Nutrition Month’s theme is ‘Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,’ which encourages everyone to adopt eating and physical activity plans that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.’ Read on for easy, simple ways to incorporate healthier choices into your lifestyle!

Consume Fewer Calories

Weight gain, while influenced by multiple factors, does come down to simple math: if you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Prevent that by finding ways to decrease your calorie intake.

-Consider counting your calories. If you don’t know how much you’re eating, it’s easy to go overboard. Click here to access MyPlate’s Super Tracker.

-Decrease your portion sizes.

-Drink a glass of water before meals and snacks. Often, we think we’re hungry when we’re simply thirsty.

-Start meals with broth-based soups, salads or veggies so you’ll have less room for the higher-calorie options.

-Eat fruit for dessert and keep cut-up veggies in the fridge for snacking.

-Don’t drink your calories. Switch from whole to 1% or skim milk, cut out sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Opt for fruit instead of juice when possible.

Make Informed Food Choices

Knowledge is power. Take charge of your health by being proactive about what you eat.

-Read food labels. Note serving size, calories and fat in each, and limit yourself to that serving size.

-Go the extra mile and learn what carbohydrates, fats and proteins are. Go to ChooseMyPlate for more information about each nutrient and the amounts recommended for you.

-Prepare your meals and snacks in advance so that you’re never caught without a healthy option on-hand to grab when you’re in a rush.

-Look at online menus before going out to eat to find healthier options at your favorite restaurants.

Get Daily Exercise

It’s recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, and 60-90 minutes to prevent weight gain.

-Get a pedometer to track your steps; aim for 10,000 each day. For fun, team up with friends and compete to get the most steps.

-Have a dog? Get out and walk. Other good excuses to get outside include yard work and playing with your kids.

-Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

-Park your car at the far end of the parking lot to increase your steps each day.

-Find an activity you enjoy and do it. Not everyone enjoys running; your strength may be a Zumba class or spinning.

-Meet friends for a walk instead of coffee.

-Winter isn’t an excuse to stay inside—find an activity you enjoy. Snow shoeing, skiing, ice skating and even sledding burn calories, increase your heart rate and are fun ways to take advantage of the season.

For more information about National Nutrition Month, click here.  Interactive quizzes and games are available online here.