More is fun, but less is better, healthier

by Capt. Jeremy F. Brooks
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

Food is meant to be enjoyed, but eating less is the key to weight management and disease prevention, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

During National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) encourages everyone to “Get Your Plate in Shape.”

Have you heard about the new “plate” that has replaced the old food pyramid? It’s called MyPlate and it’s based on the most recent revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new tool to help individuals take those guidelines and put them into practice. The SuperTracker is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art resource available at designed to assist individuals as they make changes in their life to reduce their risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight. 

More than just an online food and activity tracker, the SuperTracker has a “Food-A-Pedia” for looking up nutrition information for more than 8,000 foods and specific ways to help you customize and personalize the information just for you.
Here are some simple and practical ways to eat fewer calories while savoring and enjoying your food:

Be mindful of your daily calorie needs. Find your personal daily calorie quota using the website.

When planning your meals and snacks throughout the day, keep your calorie needs in mind. A simple way to do this is to think about the portions on your plate.
Divide your plate in four sections with one each for whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, and a side of dairy, such as a cup of low-fat milk or yogurt or an ounce of cheese.

Avoid oversized portions by using smaller plates, bowls and glasses. Portion sizes have exploded over the past 20 years — and so have our waistlines.
The standard 10-inch plate may be too large for you. Switch to 8-inch or appetizer-sized plates and you will automatically portion and eat less without feeling deprived.

Pile your plate with nutrient-dense, lower-calorie foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein foods such as beans, seafood, lean meat and poultry.

Get into the kitchen and stay in charge of what you’re eating. Cooking more often at home not only allows you to balance what’s on your plate, but also enables you to choose healthier fats, less sodium and increase the fiber in your diet while balancing the amount of calories you eat. 

Then, when you eat out, you’ll be more apt to recognize healthy portion sizes based on your experiences at home. 

Take the tactic of choosing lower calorie menu options when dining out by focusing on vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Watch out for liquid calories. The calories in fruit juices and drinks with added sugar, sports drinks, sugar-laden coffee beverages and soft drinks can add up fast.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Make it a point to carry a bottle of water with you during the day.

Try diluting fruit juice with water to cut the sugar and calories, while still providing some flavor. Also, think before you drink alcoholic beverages as they have calories too.

Remember to drink alcohol sensibly by capping it with one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. A standard drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Need more information? A registered dietitian can help. Contact your local dietitian located at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for more information at 486-8144 or 06371-86-7144.