January EFAP News: Taking a Closer Look at Nutrition
e4health (formerly LifeScope)
January 2016 Newsletter:
Taking a Closer Look at Nutrition
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Taking a Closer Look at Nutrition
Recent headlines reported that bacon may be dangerous to our health. First bacon is good for me, then it’s bad for me, then I can only have turkey bacon, then it’s okay to have bacon in small portions, and now I’m not supposed to eat it all. Sounds like a pattern we have all heard often over the past several years. Consumers are not sure what we should eat, how often we should eat certain foods, how to cook foods, or what foods we are supposed to completely avoid.
PYRAMIDS AND PLATES
Some of you may remember when we were kids, the food pyramid. The system explained, working from bottom to top, the food groups you needed the most servings of, and as you worked your way to the top, the tip of the pyramid identified foods you needed the least of or should avoid as much as possible. The pyramid concept was created over 20 years ago by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and stayed around until about 2005. In 2005, the USDA flipped the pyramid to lie on its side, and updated the food pyramid’s look and verbiage. It didn’t go over well. The sideways pyramid was confusing and sometimes viewed as misleading; subsequently, in 2011 the USDA created a simple plate campaign, “MyPlate,” with color coded categories for food groups.
A plate is much easier to wrap your head around than a pyramid when it comes to visualizing eating and planning your meals. Basically, half of each meal should be fruits and vegetables (half of your plate), a slightly larger portion on the other side of your plate should be grains and then fill in the rest with protein (preferably lean protein). A small cup is beside your plate to represent dairy (1 – 2 servings a day) or you can substitute water here. Balancing your meals on the plate and cup concept, well that is much easier to do.
SOME COMMON-SENSE ON CONSUMPTION
The key as most scientific studies show is to concentrate on the following:
LET’S NOT BRING HOME THE BACON
Back to our beloved bacon, the World Health Organization concluded that processed meats-such as hot dogs, sausages, and bacon-can yield cancer. Studies and scientists concluded that regularly eating processed meats did increase individuals’ risks of cancers, such as colorectal cancer. Many organizations weighed in on this report such as the American Cancer Society. According to NPR, Bad Day For Bacon: Processed Meats Cause Cancer, “Susan Gapstur of the American Cancer Society says the society recommends ‘consuming a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat.’ ”
As research continues, diet and exercise guidelines will likely change. Health, lifestyle, and environment will also influence your diet; still, focus on plant based foods, drinking water, limiting meat and dairy, and moving. Make your diet your own, and fill you plate with healthy choices visualizing food as the fuel your body needs to operate as successfully and efficiently as possible.
e4health administers the College’s EFAP program. To access their comprehensive web site, with many tools and articles, go to the e4health web site.