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Guidelines for Preparing Food
Buying healthy foods is just part of eating a healthy diet. You must also prepare the food without losing its nutritional value. For example, baked chicken is better for you than fried chicken. Simple ways to improve the nutritional value of meals you prepare at home follow:
Eat more complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber by serving plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Aim for at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables with 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day.
Serve vegetables like bok-choy, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.
Choose meats with a lower fat content. Trim off the excess fat before cooking meat. Remove skin from poultry before ooking. Reduce your use of sausage, luncheon meat, bacon, hot dogs, and other processed meats.
Limit eggs to two or three per week or use egg substitutes.
Avoid butter made from hydrogenated oils. Shortening and spreadable vegetable fats. Letting butter and margarine rise to room temperature before using it will allow you to spread it very thinly.
Eat fewer dairy products. Switch from whole milk to low-fat or skim milk, ice cream to ice milk, processed cheeses to low-fat cheeses.
Limit use of table salt. Try other ways to season food, use herbs, pepper, or salsa.
Limit nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter. They are all high in fat.
Baste meats with wine or tomato juice instead of meat drippings. Soups are an excellent way to add flavors and fullness to dishes with a minimum of fat.
Make stews and soups ahead of time. Chill them, skim off the fat before serving.
Broil, bake, stir-fry, steam, or microwave foods.
Storing and preparing foods properly is important to avoid food-borne illnesses, such as salmonella. Follow the package directions for storing and handling foods to help prevent food poisoning. If you use a wooden cutting board, season it first with mineral oil to keep it from absorbing fluids.
Guidelines for Information Sources About Nutrition
The key to good nutrition is education. You don’t have to be an expert on nutrition to develop a good food plan for yourself and your family. These are simple things you can do to improve your knowledge of nutrition:
Carefully screen your sources of information (books, television, and magazines). The term “nutritionist” can be used by anyone; in fact, nutritionists are not required to have a license. Look at the credentials and education of the person giving advice about nutrition. They should be a registered dietician (R.D.), physician (M.D.), or Ph.D., with a strong knowledge in nutrition.
Be wary of claims in “health food” stores. The term “natural” has no official meaning and is often used loosely. Foods needed for a healthy balanced diet can be bought at most grocery stores.
Watch for food claims that sound “too good to be true.” These claims are often used to sell a quick weight loss diet or make false promises to prevent or cure diseases. Beware of diets that include eating a lot of one type of food which can leave out many essential nutrients.
Guidelines For Eating In Restaurants and Fast Food Meals
Dining out doesn’t have to mean eating meals high in fat, sodium, or sugar. The following guidelines can help you make healthy choices the next time you eat out. Many fast food restaurants offer nutrition guides for their foods. Look at the nutrition guides before you order, and choose the healthier meals.
Choose grilled or baked poultry, fish, or vegetarian dishes instead of fried foods or fatty red meats.
Choose baked potatoes or steamed rice instead of french fries or deep-fried side dishes.
Choose low-fat or fat-free salad dressing.
Avoid foods with a mayonnaise base such as potato salad and tuna salad.
Avoid cream based sauces, “special” sauces, and high fat cheeses.
Choose mostly vegetables and fresh fruits from the salad bar.
Eat plenty of nutritious food during the meal and avoid desserts. Desserts are often high in fat, cholesterol and sugar.
Drink water or fruit juice instead of drinks with caffeine and sodium.
When you eat fast food, choose a leafy salad, grilled chicken sandwich, or plain baked potato.
Is A Vegetarian Diet For You?
There are four basic vegetarian diets. All four rely on vegetables as their main food group.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians also eat dairy products and eggs.
Lacto-vegetarians also eat dairy products, but not eggs.
Ovo-vegetarians also eat eggs but not dairy products.
Vegans avoid all foods made from animal sources.
As with many diets, there are advantages and disadvantages to being a vegetarian. Vegetarian diets are low in fat and high in fiber. Health statistics show lower rates of heart disease, obesity, colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, hypertension, and
osteoporosis in vegetarians. The disadvantage is that vegetarian diets may not give enough protein if vegetable sources of protein are omitted (nuts, dried beans, lentils). Leaving meat, fish, and dairy products out of a diet also leaves out the valuable nutrients found in these foods. Therefore, if you chose a vegetarian diet, be sure to include foods that provide protein and plenty of green leafy vegetables for calcium.
The National Cancer Institutes states, “Vitamin supplements do not provide the same health benefits as eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.” Vitamin and mineral supplements have been recommended for vegetarians, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions, if their diets lack needed nutrients.