Strike the right bal­ance in your diet

The Covington News - - HEALTH - HOSANNA FLETCHER COLUM­NIST Hosanna Fletcher has lived in New­ton County since 2005. With a Masters in Public Health and an­other in So­ci­ol­ogy, she has worked on a va­ri­ety of com­mu­nity devel­op­ment projects, led train­ing ses­sions for Lay Health Ad­vi­sors, con

“Happy Birth­day to you, Happy Birth­day to you…” That is a song we all like to sing be­cause it means birth­day cake is com­ing! To­day is my daugh­ter’s birth­day and Satur­day is my son’s birth­day so we get to have birth­day cake TWICE this week!

And you know what they say… birth­day cake has no calo­ries!

Okay — sigh — birth­day cake has plenty of calo­ries. So does re­tire­ment cake, wed­ding cake and grandma’s fa­mous cold-oven pound cake. We just don’t want to think of them. And we shouldn’t have to. Desserts are in­tended to be some­thing to en­joy. Un­less you are cel­e­brat­ing with a cake at ev­ery meal ev­ery day (and if you are, you have a spe­cial sit­u­a­tion!), a piece of birth­day cake, a scoop of home­made ice-cream, or that Death-by-Choco­late dessert at your fa­vorite restau­rant are not di­etary enemies.

It’s our lack of bal­ance and in­ten­tional choices that does us in.

I was sit­ting in the sa­lon the other day and the lady in the chair next to me was talk­ing about her new diet. It re­quired her to eat ev­ery three hours in a very spe­cific food com­bi­na­tion. To hear her talk about it, you would think she had dis­cov­ered gold. She was ex­cited about it, chal­lenged by it, and in­spired by it. She was be­ing very in­ten­tional about what she was eat­ing. And that is what mat­tered. For now.

How long can that last? If we are not en­joy­ing our food, we do not strike the bal­ance be­tween taste and nu­tri­ent in­take. The bal­ance is im­por­tant be­cause it keeps us from be­com­ing food ro­bots (who only eat in or­der to sur­vive) as well as from be­com­ing gluttonous.

Na­tional Nu­tri­tion Month was last month (I know, you are just as dis­ap­pointed as I am that we missed it — for more in­for­ma­tion, go to na­tion­al­nu­tri­tion­month.org/). The Academy of Nu­tri­tion and Di­etet­ics pro­duces this yearly nu­tri­tion and ed­u­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion cam­paign to fo­cus at­ten­tion on the im­por­tance of mak­ing in­formed food choices and de­vel­op­ing sound eat­ing and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity habits.

In­formed food choices and sound eat­ing habits. That sounds like some­thing we should aim for ev­ery month of the year, doesn’t it?

It comes down to be­ing in­ten­tional about what we are putting in our mouth by ask­ing ques­tions such as:

• What am I eat­ing and drink­ing?

• How much am I eat­ing and drink­ing?

• How has what I am eat­ing and drink­ing been pre­pared?

• (my per­sonal fa­vorite) Is what I am eat­ing de­li­cious?

Con­sider prepa­ra­tion op­tions like grilling, roast­ing, steam­ing, or stir fry­ing. Con­sider opt­ing out of sec­onds on ev­ery­thing. Con­sider choos­ing wa­ter or unsweet tea (that re­mains unsweet) in­stead of sweet tea or diet drinks. Con­sider your serv­ing size at home ver­sus eat­ing out. Con­sider your taste buds vs. your just-be­cause. Con­sider all your op­tions. But in all considerations, be in­ten­tional.

When we are in­ten­tional about our food, we en­joy it more. And the bal­ance is nat­u­rally more within strik­ing dis­tance. Be­cause con­sid­er­ing all the op­tions and en­joy­ing the re­sults go hand in hand. And they lead to sound eat­ing habits and in­formed food choices.

Your food choices might not be the same choices I would make. But, es­pe­cially if you have chronic health prob­lems or battle with yo-yo weight loss, the bal­ance is very im­por­tant. Talk to your doc­tor for more in­for­ma­tion spe­cific to you.

If we are in­ten­tional, then it doesn’t mat­ter if birth­day cake has calo­ries (even when you get to eat it twice in one week). We can in­ten­tion­ally strike the right bal­ance and en­joy the cel­e­bra­tion(s) at hand.

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