I hear it so often–“It costs too much to eat healthy!” What’s interesting is that it isn’t true. Eating out costs more than preparing foods at home and home-cooked meals typically have fewer calories, less fat and less sodium. Plus, you’ve probably read it here before–we don’t typically sit down and eat a whole bag of apples, but we could wipe out a bag of chips in one sitting.
This summer consider making changes to your thinking on eating healthfully!
Summertime provides a change of pace for many people. Children are out of school so families’ and individuals’ schedules may be a little lighter. Throw in longer daylight hours, more readily available fresh produce, and you have the perfect combination for implementing new (and healthful) habits.
Recently, a friend called to ask if I would talk with her teenage son about making changes to his eating habits. He was interested in losing weight and was training with a coach to be more effective in his favorite sport. She and her husband kept healthful food options in the home, but she admitted that their foods probably were too extreme for the child’s tastes. As mother-son relationship go, he wasn’t interested in listening to his mother’s advice so she told him she was calling me. He didn’t seem to have a problem with that. I shared a few ideas that she planned to convey under the topic “Miss Amy said….”
So what did I share? What words of advice are there for children, teens and adults on losing weight and making better food choices? First, become aware of how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Choosemyplate.gov and smartphone and computer apps can help with that. The magic number depends on age, gender and amount of physical activity. It’s important to keep in mind this isn’t as much about appearance as it is nourishing one’s body….although teens tend to be interested in appearance.
Next, I suggested the young man keep track of what he eats either by using an app or keeping a written record. Reading food labels and understanding portion sizes helps one to begin to understand how many calories are consumed. 3,500 calories equals one pound—whether you want to lose or gain.
My friend and I agreed that once her son began to understand about balancing calories consumed with calories burned, I would get together with him and talk about trying some new foods that would nourish his body better than the choices he has been making.
Are you a parent struggling to help your child with weight and health? If so, you may be interested in a new program that’s been developed by UT Extension along with Aimee Evans, Jackson-Madison County School System guidance counselor, and Leanetta Allen, registered dietitian at The Jackson Clinic. Eat Right! Future Bright! is for rising third through fifth graders and their parent. The program will provide insight and tools for parents and fun for children while learning about foods and themselves. Cost for the program is $20 for the four sessions, which begin Tuesday, June 17 and continue three additional weeks 6:30-8 p.m. Registration is required by June 13. Forms may be obtained by calling 668-8543 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children and young people aren’t the only ones who need to make healthful choices. Sometimes we adults know what to do but find it difficult to get started. This summer I’ll also be offering Pathweighs to Health. Participants of this program will learn to identify low-nutrient dense foods, discover the effect they have on hunger and satiety, and gain skills to make healthy alternatives a part of everyday life—despite the barriers. Other lessons examine the impact of stress and sleep on weight, as well as the how to critically analyze food promotions from various types of media. This series also starts Tuesday, June 17. It runs for six weeks at the cost of $30 for the series and will be held 4:30 to 6 p.m. Registration for this program is also due June 13 by calling 668-8543 or by email to email@example.com. The programs will be held at the Madison County Agriculture Complex, 309 North Parkway.
Here’s to a happy, healthy summer!