Okay, you’re convinced. You know that a healthful diet positively impacts your health both today
and years from now. But, if you’re like many Americans, knowing isn’t necessarily doing. Do you see yourself in these statistics?
A whopping eight in 10 Americans believe nutrition impacts their health, but only half (four in 10) are doing all they can to eat right, according to a recent survey by The American Dietetic Association.
What’s causing this short circuit between believing and doing?
People who participated in the survey
reported that their top three barriers to
eating better are:
1. Confusion over conflicting media reports
2. Fear of having to give up their favorite foods.
3. Believing that healthful eating takes too
Don’t let these barriers trip up your food intentions to eat right! Let’s knock them down right now with help from registered dietitian Cindy Moore, a spokesperson for The American Dietetic Association and director of Nutrition Therapy at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio.
Barrier Number 1:
Confusion over Mixed Media Messages
You know the drill:
• Butter’s bad and margarine’s good. Then butter’s back and margarine’s on the back burner.
• Oat bran is fabulous, then it fizzles. Now it’s back again with its very own health claim on food labels.
Why do we continually see these frustrating nutrition flip-flops in the news? And what’s the best advice to follow?
Moore explains it this way: “Credible nutrition advice is based on hundreds of research studies conducted over many years until a pattern emerges. During this process, results from different studies will sometimes contradict each other. Scientific research has worked this way for years. But today, people are so hungry for nutrition information that the media reports on many studies before researchers reach a consensus.” ‘That’s why you shouldn’t change your eating habits based on only a study or two,” advises Moore.“Instead, wait for agreement from respected health authorities such as The American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society.” Or, ask your doctor. You might also consult a respected nutrition professional such as a registered dietitian. (See “Call for Help,” on page 12 to find a registered dietitian who can answer your questions.)
Barrier Number 2:
Fear of Fogging Favorite Foods
Mmmm, juicy, sizzling steak; crispy, golden French fries; devilishly dense chocolate cake… You’d hate to give up your favorite dishes forever, wouldn’t you?
Unfortunately, many people envision eating right as a dreary regimen devoid of taste. They see ho-hum, boring foods and (yawn) a lifetime of boring, boring, boring meals stretching out into a dull, gray infinity. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
“Any food you like can fit into a healthful meal plan,” says Moore. The trick is to keep the portion size reasonable and
Watch how often you indulge in yummy goodies. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it, too—just not the whole cake and not every day
Moore’s favorite portion control strategy is to freeze brownies or cookies in individual packets. Then, when the urge hits, she takes out a single serving and savors it.
What if you occasionally throw portion control to the wind and scarf down half a pizza loaded with pepperoni and extra cheese? Don’t fret, says Moore. Over the next day or so, simply balance out your indulgence by choosing more lower-fat foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits and by upping your physical activity regimen a bit.
Barrier Number 3:
You Can’t Eat Healthy in a Hurry
Nonsense& People crave convenience, says Moore, so the food industry now provides a tremendous number of options that are both fast and healthful. Just one example is the explosion of ready-to-use fresh vegetables such as salads, baby carrots, cut-up broccoli and cauliflower, slaw, and stir-fry mixes.
As a busy professional who works long hours, Moore is a fan of the “big batch” method of convenience. “I make a huge batch of oatmeal and store it in the fridge. In the morning, I microwave a portion with some milk and sweetener. My breakfast is ready in less than a minute.” Moore also makes large portions of long-cooking dishes such as soups and brown rice to freeze in small containers. “It’s a snap to defrost them in the microwave,” she says.
And what could be faster than fresh fruit? Moore keeps a bowl of her favorite apples, bananas, pears, and grapes right in her office, ready for speed snacking.