The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Her Health - By Lind­sey Wells

We’ve made it to 2017. The ma­jor­ity of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are health-re­lated, and peo­ple across the coun­try are cur­rently set­ting their res­o­lu­tions for the year in hopes that they’ll ac­tu­ally stick to them.

Many women strug­gle with weight is­sues and un­healthy eat­ing habits, whether it’s be­cause they don’t have the time needed to re­ally fo­cus on their goals or be­cause they lack willpower. Many di­ets fail sim­ply be­cause they aren’t en­joy­able. So how do we get over these hur­dles and keep our prom­ises to our­selves?

Na­tional Park Med­i­cal Cen­ter di­eti­tian Laura Copeland, who has been an ex­pert on diet and nu­tri­tion for 16 years, says her first tip to cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing a healthy life­style is to elim­i­nate all soft drinks, sug­ary drinks and even diet drinks from your diet.

“If you look at the re­search, they’ve linked a lot of di­a­betes to sug­ary drinks. And diet drinks are ter­ri­ble; ev­ery­body loves them but they are not good for you. Cut­ting those out are go­ing to do so much to im­prove any­one’s over­all health,” she said.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing a di­eti­tian, Copeland is also a cer­ti­fied di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor.

For those that still aren’t con­vinced enough to cut out so­das from their diet, Copeland en­cour­ages peo­ple to visit the hospital’s dial­y­sis clinic.

“Our dial­y­sis, or our re­nal physi­cians, will tell you that drink­ing one soda a day is go­ing to dam­age your kid­neys, so if you do that over a life­time, by the time you get into your fifties or your six­ties you might end up with kid­ney dis­ease, which is no fun,” she said.

Copeland added that the phos­pho­rous con­tent in soda is so high that it af­fects the cal­cium in your bones and in­creases your risk for os­teo­poro­sis.

“It’s a men­tal thing. Your habits are some­thing that will make or break you, and ev­ery­thing that we do is be­cause of the habits we form. So cut­ting that out of your diet is just a habit and you have to con­sciously make the ef­fort to start wean­ing your­self back. But, it’s a lot of willpower,” she added.

The old rule of thumb is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, Copeland said, adding that some peo­ple may need more or less than that de­pend­ing on how large they are and how ac­tive they are.

“My sec­ond tip would be to con­sume a va­ri­ety of foods. So many peo­ple are not eat­ing the veg­eta­bles that they should. They’re not get­ting the color. So, in­clude those non-starchy veg­eta­bles at least once or twice a day in your meals,” she added.

Non-starchy veg­eta­bles in­clude broc­coli, cau­li­flower, let­tuce, greens, car­rots, toma­toes, bell pep­pers and as­para­gus. These are low in calo­ries and high in nu­tri­ents, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, ver­sus the starchy veg­eta­bles — pota­toes, corn, peas — which Copeland said are more like eat­ing bread.

“There are so many peo­ple out there that, for some rea­son, do not like veg­eta­bles at all. In that case, sup­ple­ment­ing is al­ways go­ing to be bet­ter than not get­ting them at all, but the only trou­ble that that runs into is that you’re not go­ing to feel sat­is­fied from tak­ing a sup­ple­ment, so you’re still go­ing to prob­a­bly overeat the starches and the car­bo­hy­drate foods and the meats and you’re still go­ing to be at risk for get­ting too many calo­ries from those foods, which in turn is go­ing to cause you to gain weight,” Copeland said.

“I just try to en­cour­age peo­ple, es­pe­cially if they didn’t like veg­eta­bles as chil­dren — your taste changes as you get older so they may need to start try­ing to in­cor­po­rate some­thing, one veg­etable; try it at least be­cause some­times it takes three or four times to try it be­fore you de­velop a taste for it.”

While it may seem like sim­ply not eat­ing at all, or eat­ing very lit­tle, will help us lose weight, Copeland said that sim­ply isn’t the case. Women should eat con­sis­tent, small meals — break­fast, lunch and din­ner — to make sure they are get­ting the proper calorie in­take to keep their me­tab­o­lism from slow­ing down.

One way to keep track of your calorie and food in­take is to start keep­ing a food jour­nal, which Copeland said helps a lot of peo­ple be­cause it serves as a vis­ual and some­times is all they need to keep them­selves in check.

Copeland added that women who live a very seden­tary life­style should gen­er­ally be tak­ing in about 1,500 calo­ries per day, but she said your magic calorie num­ber re­ally just de­pends on your ac­tiv­ity level dur­ing the day.

“If you’re sit­ting at a desk and you’re not get­ting up and mov­ing around all day, you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to need that much,” she said. “But if you’re at a job where you’re pretty ac­tive, just walk­ing and up and do­ing things, you might need a lit­tle more, and that’s ba­si­cally just to main­tain where you are.

“The most im­por­tant point to re­mem­ber in nu­tri­tion is just to en­joy your food. Don’t stress out over food, but eat a va­ri­ety of food and watch your por­tion sizes.”

Laura Copeland with some of the food choices avail­able at Na­tional Park Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

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