Here’s To Your Health

Debra Quarles, RD

Registered Dietitian South Central Human Resource Agency Head Start

March is National Nutrition Month, which focuses on the many benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced eating plan. Scientific evidence supports the significance of combining eating healthfully with daily physical exercise of 20 to 30 minutes. Also included in this plan are weight control, being well hydrated with 7 to 8 cups of water or calorie-free beverages daily, 7 to 8 hours of daily sleep, and stress control. Just remember that any improvement in these areas adds up to health benefits, so don’t feel as though you must instantly master them all, which is not a realistic expectation for any of us.

The goal is to gradually work at improving each of these lifestyle actions instead of getting overwhelmed with trying to make too many changes too fast. It can be helpful to focus on one of these areas at a time, then focus on the next area. Your body appreciates your efforts and can reward you as you steadily continue your goals. Just keep moving along day by day, month by month, even year by year if necessary. Be proud of yourself for all these efforts!

Trimming 5 to 7 per cent off your body weight can cut the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in a person with pre-diabetes by more than half. Weight loss can even help those on insulin or oral diabetes medication to decrease their medications. This weight loss can improve high blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol and other blood fats, reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes, reduce joint pain, and increase your energy. Work with your doctor and registered dietitian to determine your caloric needs and other food restrictions such as sodium and fat, especially saturated fat.

Exercise includes anything that gets you moving such as walking, dancing, working in the yard, and cleaning the house. Parking your car in the far part of the parking lot when shopping, going to work, to the park or to other outside activities can really increase your daily calorie expenditure. Other ways to burn extra calories are to forget the elevator and use the stairs and walk over to your co-workers instead of sending them a text (You might make a new friend that way and encourage others in the office to also do this!). You can reap the benefits of being physically active without going to a gym, playing a sport, or buying fancy equipment. It’s always better to move than to be inactive, and every little bit counts. For every 1 pound of body fat lost, it takes 4 pounds of pressure off your joints, so losing 10 pounds of weight removes 40 pounds of pressure from your joints.

A good gauge to follow on your dinner plate is to have half of the plate filled with fruits and non-greasy vegetables, ¼ of the plate with whole grains, and the other ¼ filled with low-fat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dried beans. Eight ounces of skim milk at each meal rounds out a healthy plan. Use fried and fatty foods and sweets in very small amounts, and only occasionally, to give yourself a treat and help avoid the feeling of being deprived.

Since eating the correct portion size is so important to weight control, when possible, weigh and measure your food, usually after cooking, with standard measuring cups and spoons. Many people find that serving food from the stove rather than from the table helps control portion sizes as well as number of servings. If it’s not always possible to measure your food, here are some visual cues to help you estimate the portions: an average size woman’s fist is about one cup, one ounce of cheese equals the size of 4 dice, and 3 ounces of cooked meat, fish or poultry is the size and thickness of a checkbook. Don’t give up if you happen to fall short of any of these aforementioned healthy lifestyle goals such as eating and exercise. Set realistic goals for yourself, and hang in there for the long haul, be it months and months, or even a year or more. Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare, and let’s get started !

Orange-Broiled Salmon- makes one serving with 325 calories, 12 grams fat, and 24 grams protein.


½ ounce pasta, spinach fettuccine, or linguini, uncooked

3 ounces salmon, uncooked

¾ cup broccoli, frozen florets

I teaspoon margarine

½ Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

1 fresh orange

Cook pasta as directed on package. Spray broiler pan or grill basket with no-stick cooking spray. Top with salmon (skin side down). Slice orange and layer on top of salmon. Grill or broil at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until fish flakes with a fork, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add broccoli, margarine, and sesame seeds to pasta. Stir, cover and simmer 5 minutes or until broccoli is heated through. Serve with the salmon.