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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tip: Spurn Supplements; Consume Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Go and Bobbie, 2008

Bobbie and Go, 2011

My sister Go Nodar and I have often been asked if we were twins, even though our ages are eight years apart. Now that I've lost weight, we get asked if we're twins more often than usual. The photo on the left was taken in 2008. The photo to the right was taken a few weeks ago. Instead of aging three years, I'm three years healthier, stronger, and happier. Some say I'm even prettier.

Beauty has never been a high priority for me; health has.

According to a study from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, obesity rates have risen dramatically in every state over the past two decades. In addition, Americans who made less money and had less education were more likely to be obese. Adults making less than $15,000 per year, for instance, had a 33 percent obesity rate, compared with a 21.5 percent rate for those making at least $50,000 per year.
Oh, heavens, that information means that obese folks are more likely to be considered less educated, and the obese make less money. Which came first, though? Did we grow in size because we didn’t know any better (less education) or had boring, low-paying jobs because of our lack of education and entertained ourselves by overeating? Perhaps obese people don’t get hired for higher paying jobs, too.

The order of things doesn’t matter. The fact remains that obesity rates are rising, and obesity has an impact on every aspect of our lives, including our health, our happiness, and our finances. It’s a fight every day of my life to stay conscious of what I put into my mouth and what consequences that food will have on my life, my body, my future, and my existence.

Since starting a food plan a year ago, I haven’t bought a single carton or cone of ice cream, for example, whereas ice cream used to be a staple in my freezer. At any given time, I could open the freezer and choose from two or more flavors. No more. Do I never eat ice cream? Not really. At a conference last weekend, participants were served ice cream, and I happily ate mine, the first ice cream I’d tasted in a year. I could have gone back for seconds, as did many other participants, but I didn’t. Conscious eating.

Even though I consciously make unwise choices on occasion, the wise choices far outnumber the unwise ones, these days. I pull little tricks that lower the calorie count of some things that I like to eat. I extend my salad dressing with low-calorie lime juice, instead of adding more salad dressing. I use cottage cheese on my waffles instead of whipped cream. I eat hummus and popcorn chips for a snack instead of a bag of potato chips. I snack on pecans instead of candy. I almost always, every day, eat a salad for either lunch or dinner, and I don't mean a salad with my dinner. The salad is the dinner. I fill it with great things. I choose from things like Romaine, sugar snap peas, spinach, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, grapes, apples, pineapple, dried cranberries, pecans, sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, and much more. I toss in any leftover cooked veggies I may have. I add a handful of leftover protein of any kind, and I add salad dressing and lime juice, and munch down.

Folks who write to me about their frustration with being at a plateau forget to congratulate themselves for having lost weight and not regained it. Even a plateau can be good news; it means we’re not regaining our lost weight, when statistically most people regain their lost weight.

When we tend toward obesity, every day is a trial; everything that goes into our mouths is a challenge. We can let our vigilance slip now and then, but never for long.

I know my daily salads are key to making me feel better. Eating right to feel better is a message I see more and more, these days. From the CVS Minute Clinic I read the following and more good advice, which I found especially unusual, because the pharmacy that sells supplements does not recommend them. Read on, and to read the whole article, see

Feel better. Eat produce.

Produce has certainly earned its healthful reputation. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber, and low in calories and fat. These factors contribute to health benefits including

• Lower blood cholesterol levels
• Decreased risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease
• Decreased risk of certain types of cancer
• Lower blood pressure
• Lower risk of overweight and obesity

Think 5 to 9

A total of 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day is recommended. It may sound like a lot, but a serving is probably smaller than you think.

One serving of fruit equals:

• 1 medium piece of fruit, such as an apple, banana, orange, pear, or peach
• 1/2 grapefruit
• 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit, including berries and grapes
• 1/4 cup dried fruit (Dried fruit often has more calories and sugar than fresh fruit)
• 3/4 cup 100% fruit juice

One serving of vegetable equals:

• 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and broccoli
• 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw
• 3/4 cup 100% vegetable juice

Don’t “cheat”

While it may be tempting to just pop a supplement instead of eating more produce, this is not the best way to go.

The majority of the research has shown positive health effects from foods rich nutrients, not from isolated nutrients. Experts think it may be the package of nutrients in fruits and vegetables that delivers the biggest health benefits. Plus, there are hundreds of phytochemicals in each bite of fruits and vegetables that are not available in pill form.

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