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Eating for Your Health

Eating for Your Health

Healthy eating, just like any habit, requires practice. We all know that for those of us with a sweet tooth, it's going to take new focus to choose a carrot or a peach as a snack instead of a chocolate chip cookie. And, how do we decide what foods are good for us, anyway? There is so much information out there.

Food PyramidBeebe Medical Center and its Nutritional Services Department would like to share some tips to help you in your journey to develop eating habits that will help you maintain a healthy body weight and also help to prevent cardiovascular disease. We also will share with your information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's program Steps to a Healthier You ( that offers all kinds of helpful information on how to decide what is the perfect diet and exercise program for you.

There are four important points we at Beebe Medical Center would like you to remember about eating.

Moderation – It is essential in the ever-daunting task of portion control. Balance – We can't forget the very simple equation – The amount we eat has to be balanced by the amount of exercise that we get. Variety – Remember the food pyramid. We need to eat a variety of foods, allowing us to get an assortment of nutrients. Premium – think of food as your fuel. You want to fill up with premium fuels to provide the best performance.

Portion Control

The food world is making it more and more difficult for us to eat the appropriate serving size. With huge, super-sized portions served to us everyday at restaurants in an environment of getting the most for your money, it is no wonder that we struggle with knowing how much we should eat at any one time.

We need to be aware of how our plate should look. Instead of assuming that our plate should be covered, we should determine what an actual serving size is. Food labels can help us. Also, these comparisons may help:

This Amount of Food Is Similar To 3 ounces meat deck of cards 1 cup baseball 1/2 cup light bulb 1/4 cup large egg 1 tablespoon whole thumb 1 teaspoon tip of thumb

Determining YOUR Needs – "One Size Doesn't Fit All"

In recent years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture changed the Food Guide Pyramid to the new MyPyramid.

This change was made because experts in the fields of health and nutrition wanted each individual to recognize that his or her nutritional needs are unique. In other words, an active 10-year-old child has a different nutritional and caloric need than a 30-year-old pregnant woman or a 70-year-old man with a relatively sedentary lifestyle, or a different 70-year-old man who follows a rigorous and daily exercise regimen. Our nutritional needs are governed by our age, our size, our health and our overall activity level.

MyPyramid was developed to be a personalized experience. With an interactive website (, each one of us can determine own personal needs, track meal intake, plan meals and have access to many easy-to-read resources.

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Your caloric intake needs will depend on how much energy you burn through exercise, whether you are lifting weights in the gym, pulling weeds in the garden, rushing after a tennis ball, walking the golf course or the neighborhood, or riding a bicycle.

Premium Choices with Variety

MyPyramid not only helps in determining your calorie needs, it also delineates the food groups and how much from each one you should consume.

VeggiesThe basic food groups are:

Grains Vegetables Fruits Milk Meat and Beans

Each food group differs in the nutrients it provides and we need something from each one of them. The consumption of fruits and vegetables is proving to help prevent cardiovascular disease. Plenty of fiber found in whole grain cereals also is important to our health. By contrast, we know that including too much refined sugar and flour in our diets (white bread, cakes, cookies, candy and sugar-filled soft drinks) can lead to weight gain and the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It is not that we have to give up dessert. We just need to balance how much dessert we consume with what else we consume.

One tip that can make meal planning more fun is to try to incorporate as many different food groups into a meal, while sticking with the appropriate portion sizes, of course.

Adding fruit to a salad, vegetables to a pizza or omelet, or beans to any dish, are examples of creative ways to incorporate more food groups.

Variety is also important within each food group

Grains – Choose the high fiber choices we cite below. When you are getting ready to eat, check the labels on your grain products to choose items with three or more grams of fiber per serving

Brown rice Whole wheat pasta 100% whole wheat bread Light popcorn

Vegetables – Include a variety of different colors of vegetables when you eat. See how many colors there are.

Green: spinach, broccoli, green beans Red: tomatoes, red peppers Orange: carrots, sweet potatoes Yellow: squash, yellow peppers White: onions, cauliflower

Fruits – just like vegetables, choose a rainbow of colors; And remember, fruit juice does not replace fruit, no matter what television tells you. Fruit juice is loaded with sugar, while the fruit itself includes the fiber that it important for your body and for your digestion.

Green: grapes, kiwi, honeydew Red: strawberries, watermelon, apples, cherries, raspberries Orange: oranges, cantaloupe, peaches, mangos, apricots Yellow: bananas, pineapple Purple: grapes, blackberries, plums Blue: blueberries

Meat/Beans – Choose lean cuts of meat and remove the skin; limit red meat to a few times a week and incorporate fish, chicken, turkey, pork, beans and tofu into your diet.

Dairy – Choose lower-fat versions of dairy products

Fat-free (skim) or 1% milk Fat-free or low-fat cheeses Fat-free or low-fat yogurt