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You are what you eat


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Food is one of the essential things we need to survive. Many, if not all, of us believe that it's important to eat healthy, exercise, and take care of ourselves. Yet, with today's hectic schedules, we can often fall prey to "fast" food because it's just that, fast. So, where can one begin to make changes?

Start with some extra planning. Make a list of meals for the week and shop for items accordingly. Prepare meals in advance and freeze them so that all you have to do is heat them up. This comes in handy when there is a shortage of time. Planning may take some time to get used to, but it can become something that the whole family gets involved in.

What kinds of things should we eat? Well, a simple thing to remember when you are planning meals is that fresh is always better. If you can't get fresh products, then select frozen over canned items.

The American Heart Association suggests:

Eat plenty of grains, vegetables, and fruits because they provide vitamins, minerals and complex carbohydrates. Plus, they are low in fat.

Get your fiber intake because it can lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers. It is also important for bowel function and can reduce symptoms of chronic constipation and hemorrhoids.

Choose a diet low in fat and cholesterol and read labels on the food you buy. If possible, try to consume less saturated fats (animal fat) and restrict your fat calories to 20 percent or less of your total calories because that has been shown to reverse blockage of the coronary arteries in many people.

Avoid too much sugar. Try to stay away from processed sugars and eat more complex carbohydrates like fruit, bread, beans and grains. Eating sugars in moderation will help maintain a healthy weight.

Avoid too much sodium like table salt. People with high blood pressure or those who are at risk of high blood pressure should consume less salt or sodium.

Maintain a healthy weight. To maintain a healthy weight we must balance the amount of calories we consume with the amount of calories the body uses.

Read labels on the foods that you buy. When looking at the list of ingredients in a product, the first ingredient is the one that makes up the largest part. Thus, the last ingredient represents the smallest part of the product.

Physical activity is another important part of the plan to a healthier body, inside and out. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that if you want to get fit, think of the acronym FITT to help.

F for frequency: Get active at least five times a week.

I for intensity: Get your body revved up and your heart pumping.

T is for time: Spend at least 60 minutes doing a variety of activities.

T is for type: Do a variety of activities that work your body and fit your style, and have fun while you're doing it.

No matter if we are someone who eats well and exercises regularly or just starting out, we can take small steps to a better body (inside and out). Remember to drink plenty of water, get moving, and always try to eat foods that act like fuel for our bodies instead of things that rob us of health and energy.

So how can we better ensure our youth are FITT? Local youth, depending on grade level, have the opportunity to "get active" several days a week during the school day. For non-PE days, encourage your children to walk or bike to school, or to participate in physical activity offerings at our local Boys & Girls Club.

For questions about this, or other prevention topics, or to get involved, contact HELP and the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line at 265-6206.


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