Southern Indiana Living

JAN-FEB 2019

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Jan/Feb 2019 • 45 M y favorite holiday is Thanks- giving. I love the food, cook- ing and time spent with fam- ily and friends. For me, the holidays are a time to indulge and enjoy rich and flavorful dishes. With that said, I make it a point to maintain my active and healthy lifestyle throughout the entire holiday season. Doing so keeps my energy up, my stress level low and prevents any unwanted weight gain. "Does the Keto Diet work?" "Is it better than Whole 30, or what about counting macros?" "Should I limit my- self to 1,200 calories per day?" "Bread is bad — right?" And my personal favorite: "Fruit has sugar, so I shouldn't eat it." These are things I hear from patients and the general public all too often. Our soci- ety is so diet-focused, we forget to eat food for fuel, not solely for weight loss. The complex biochemical processes the body undergoes requires balanced nutrition in order to work optimally. Con- suming foods from all food groups and plenty of calories will allow this to hap- pen. Unfortunately, fad diets typically entail eliminating several foods or entire food groups, demonizing them and caus- ing many of us to have food fears. This can lead to under-eating calories and vital nu- trients the body needs to thrive. In this new year, rather than focus- ing on a strict diet to achieve weight loss, shift your focus to eating a nutrient-rich diet that fuels your body. Doing so will give you energy, improve your health, make you feel better than ever and, if nec- essary, will promote healthy weight loss. To help you figure out how to get started, here's a brief nutrition lesson. There are five food groups: whole grains, protein, fruits, vegetables, and dairy/ dairy alternatives. They each provide es- sential nutrients for the human body. A balanced diet includes whole grains and starch — yes, you read that read right. I'm talking about carbohy- drates. Whole grains as well as starchy vegetables are the most accessible form of energy for the body and, most impor- tantly, the brain. The brain needs at least 130 grams of carbohydrates per day to function. That number is only the mini- mum; the total amount of carbohydrates a person should consume depends on ac- tivities of daily living and exercise. Along with providing energy and brain func- tion, whole-grains are jam-packed with fiber that is essential for bowel function and keeping cholesterol at bay, as well as energy-boosting B-vitamins. Protein comes from a variety of sources, including poultry, eggs, seafood, meat, beans, dairy, tofu, nuts, seeds, tem- peh and seitan. Notice that I listed far more than meat in this category. More and more people are incorporating veg- etarian dishes into their diets these days because there are numerous benefits to reducing total meat consumption and in- creasing plant-based options. Both meat and plant-based proteins provide energy, but more importantly, they accelerate chemical reactions in the body, help fight illnesses, transport oxygen, regulate body functions, and promote growth and repair of body tissues. Protein can also increase satiety due to the amount of time needed for digestion. There are many reasons to eat a va- riety of fruits and vegetables, including reducing your risk for heart disease, obe- sity, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. If you already have one or more of these conditions, incorporating veg- etables and fruits into your diet can help improve them. Their filling fiber content promotes weight loss while also reducing constipation and preventing diverticulo- sis later down the road. They are also rich in Vitamin C, which helps the growth and repair of body tissues, healing, and pro- motes healthy teeth and gums. So load up — half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Dairy or dairy alternatives are im- portant for maintaining bone health, pro- moting a healthy immune system and providing vitamins for energy. Fairlife milk is one of my favorite. It's an ultra- filtered milk that has 50 percent more protein and 30 percent more calcium than regular milk. It's also lactose-free, helping prevent any stomach discomfort. If dairy isn't your thing, soy milk and other alter- natives also fit the bill. Silk soy milk is a staple in my house. Silk has a variety of dairy alternatives made from soy, almond and coconut. Of course, there are numer- ous quality brands to choose from aside from Fairlife and Silk. Next time you are grocery shopping, take a minute to ex- plore your options and try something new. Finally, fat, although it is not consid- ered a food group, it is an essential part of the diet. Fats can be confusing because there are "good" fats and "bad" fats. Good fats are mono- and poly-unsaturated fats that are found in fatty fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. They help reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol, maintain your body's cell and hormone health, and they store fat-soluble vitamins such as the anti- oxidant Vitamin E. Polyunsaturated fats also provide the essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that your body cannot make on its own. "Bad" fats are saturated fats that in- clude butter, whole dairy products, bacon and red meat. If consumed too often, these fats can raise your LDL "bad" cholesterol, lower HDL "good" cholesterol, increase triglycerides and put you at greater risk for heart disease. So for your New Year's resolution, put yourself first. Make it a priority to fuel your body with all of the good stuff. Fuel up with all of the food groups and allow yourself to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. You will be amazed at how much energy you have and how much better you will feel. • Maji Koetter, Ali, MS, RD, LD, CD, is a licensed registered dietitian at Baptist Health Floyd special - izing in diabetes and weight management. She uses a real-life approach to nutrition when counseling her clients, and encour - ages them to strive for progress not perfection. She is passionate about helping everyone find their own way to living their happiest and healthiest lives About the Author Food is Fuel A New Year's resolution worth trying Real Life Nutrition Our society is so diet-focused, we forget to eat food for fuel, not solely for weight loss.

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