Eat Well to Be Well: Trade eating perfection for eating smarter – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Eat Well to Be Well: Trade eating perfection for eating smarter

Unlock the potential for your best health by redefining the menu: Ditch perfect plates, embrace smart eating

Nutrition isn’t just about eating the perfect diet (boring); it’s about eating smarter. Navigating the world of healthy eating can feel like a daunting task, but fear not! Here’s your guide to eating smart without sacrificing the joy of food – because, let’s face it, perfection is overrated anyway!

A smart shopper takes time to read the label before putting an item in their cart.

Understanding and implementing smart eating sounds easy and should be intuitive for everyone, right?  Unfortunately, not.  For some, eating a healthy diet means all or nothing. You’re either diving in headfirst into following an overly restrictive dietary plan that demands perfection or you may have thrown your hands up in frustration deciding to throw in the towel and blissfully ignore any sort of nutrition advice by educated professionals like myself.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. To help you wade through what may feel like a dietary quagmire, let me help you focus on the basics to a healthy way of eating that will support your overall well-being.  Nutrition is a big wide world of eating options of a delightfully delicious array of amazingly healthy foods. Entire books have been written of the multitude of healthy dietary advice you can choose from. What I’m providing you in this article, is a good start to begin your journey to make those “smart” food choices that will sustain you long-term in reaching your nutrition goals – one bite at a time.

Let’s take a look:

Welcome omega-3 to the party

Let’s talk about the superhero of nutrients: Omega-3 fatty acids. These powerhouses don’t just swoop in to save the day; they’re essential for our bodies. From boosting heart health to supporting our immune system and keeping our brains sharp, omega-3s are the real MVPs. And guess what? Walnuts are one of the ultimate sidekicks in delivering this goodness. But even better choices for getting your omega-3s include mackerel, salmon, herring, oysters, sardines, anchovies, and shrimp. For those who prefer to eat vegan, your options include seaweed, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, edamame, kidney beans, and wheat germ.

Omega-3s are essential components of cells, helping them function effectively. They also assist in the formation of signaling molecules known as eicosanoids, which play a crucial role in:

  • Cardiovascular system: A system that encompasses the heart, blood vessels, and blood helping supply your body with energy, oxygen, and nutrients.
  • Respiratory system: This system comprises the lungs, airways, and blood vessels, allowing you to breathe. This is accomplished whenever you breathe in oxygen from the air and then expel the unwanted carbon dioxide.
  • Immune system: A system that consists of the bone marrow, spleen, lymphatic system, and white blood cells working together to defend your body from antigens and foreign substances that may penetrate your skin or body linings.
  • Endocrine system: This system involves the pancreas, adrenal glands, thyroid gland, pituitary gland, and hormones, that communicate any changing conditions that demand a response from various body organs.

Protein: Your fullness ally

Are you feeling hungry all the time? Enter protein, the ultimate satiety superhero. Not only does it keep those pesky cravings at bay, but it also helps us build lean muscle and maintain a healthy weight. So, make sure protein is your partner in crime, whether it’s Greek yogurt for breakfast, tuna salad with eggs for lunch, a farro bowl with rotisserie chicken for dinner, or a handful of walnuts for a snack. Aim for between 25-30 grams of protein at each meal and about 10-12 grams of protein at a snack.

Snack attack: Choose wisely

When the in-between-mealtime hangry feelings strike, reaching for the nearest bag of chips is easy. But why not snack smarter? Fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains are delicious and guilt-free. My personal favorite? A handful of sliced almonds paired with black raisins – the perfect blend of crunch and sweetness.

Portion control: Size matters

It’s not just what you eat but how much you eat that counts. Monitoring portion sizes is absolutely essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So, whether you’re dining out or enjoying a home-cooked meal, keep an eye on your portions. Remember, half your plate should be veggies, and the other half should be a mix of grains and lean protein. And hey, if you need to break out the measuring cups, go for it!

Decode the label: Know what you’re eating

Read food labels to know what’s in your food. Before tossing that snack or TV dinner into your cart, peek at the label. Knowing what’s in your food is the first step to making more intelligent choices. Reading food labels can be an eye-opener! Look out for hidden sugars, an overabundance of sodium, and mysterious ingredients. Your body will thank you for it.

Take it one goal at a time

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a healthy lifestyle. Set realistic goals, one step at a time, and celebrate each victory. Remember, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about making progress.

So, there you have it – eating smart doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive.

One more thing: Success comes from progress, not perfection. So here’s to making smarter, savvier dietary choices – cheers to a healthier you!

For more information on each “smarter” way of eating, refer to these references:

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Kansas, and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics and institutional management from Kansas State University. She is a outpatient clinical dietitian for local clinics, and a freelance health and nutrition writer. She is the author of The Nourished Brain: The Latest Science On Food’s Power For Protecting The Brain From Alzheimers and Dementia, The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook and The Heart Disease Prevention Cookbook. Visit her website

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