Saturday, December 28, 2013

Healthy Foodie Rules to Live By -- or try to -- PART 1

To enjoy food while staying fit and healthy, it helps to have a few guiding principles.
This post and the next couple will reiterate my Ten Healthy Foodie Rules, posted each year around this time as we recover from our holiday excesses -- if not yet, then soon!

This is a simple one, really: we should eat most of our meals at home, and prepare them ourselves.
I'm all for some shortcuts, such as pre-peeled and cut veggies, but in general your meals will be healthiest when made yourself, from scratch.
Otherwise, you really don't know what's going in your mouth.

I heard Michael Pollan on the radio not long ago saying it's OK to eat as much "junk food" as you want--as long as you cook it yourself. He was talking about French fries, as I recall. That used to be a very occasional treat, if only because deep-frying potatoes makes a huge mess in the kitchen and most people don't want to hassle with that very often. Now you can drive through you-know-where and get a piping hot, salty hit of crispy potatoes any time of day or night, any day of the week. Insanely, French fries are by far the most widely consumed "vegetable" in the U.S. If we only ate them when we prepared them at home, fries would not be anything like as over-consumed.

Nine servings, say what? If that sounds impossible, keep in mind that nutritionists' agreed-upon serving sizes are pretty small.

One serving =
1/2 cup cooked vegetables 
1/2 cup whole berries, sliced strawberries or fruit salad
1 small apple (a large apple cut into slices would be 2 servings) 
1/2 large banana, or one whole small banana
1 cup salad greens
1 cup raw vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers or sliced cucumbers

Healthy foodies should eat nine (or more) servings of vegetables and fruit each day for several reasons. They are the best sources of vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, as well as excellent sources of dietary fiber. They fill up your tummy and keep you from eating empty calories full of fat and sugar.

My best advice for achieving this daily goal is to have fruit and/or veggies with every meal and most snacks.
For instance, have some fruit with breakfast, no matter what time of year it is. Right now I'm eating half a red grapefruit most mornings along with oatmeal or cold cereal heaped with berries. Try to include salad (with fruit on it as well as raw veggies) or vegetable soup with lunch whenever possible. And half of a dinner plate should be heaped with cooked vegetables every least, when you're eating at home. (It's very hard to eat enough vegetables when dining out, alas.) (See healthy foodie rule #1, above, about eating out versus eating at home.)

And of course, let your snacks include fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

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