Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese (too much body fat) may play a part in many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Too much weight is especially a problem for African Americans. The Office of Minority Health says that:

  • African Americans are nearly one and a half times as likely to be overweight or obese as whites.
  • About 4 out of 5 African American women are overweight or obese!

You can reduce your risks for these diseases by getting to, and staying at, a normal weight for your height and age.  Plus, by learning to cook and eat more healthy, you not only help yourself, you also start your family down a path of good health too.   

A Healthy Plan Starts With You

A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? According to the US Department of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the following Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests a healthy eating plan that includes:

  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
  • Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • A diet in saturated fats, transfat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Staying within your daily calorie needs.

Eat Healthy – Make It An Adventure

A healthy eating plan includes a variety of foods you may not have thought about. If "healthy eating" makes you think about the foods you can't have, refocus on all the new foods you can eat.

  • Fresh fruits.  Don't think just apples or bananas. These are great choices, but try some "exotic" fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! If your favorite fresh fruits are not in season, try frozen or dried fruit. Canned fruits may contain added sugar or syrup. Instead, choose canned fruit packed in water or in its own juice.
  • Fresh vegetables. Try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with an herb like rosemary. Sauté vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish — just microwave and serve. Look for canned vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauce. Spend time in the produce department and try a new vegetable each week.
  • Calcium-rich foods. When someone says "eat more dairy products," you may think of low-fat or fat-free milk. But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a many flavors and can be a great dessert if you have a sweet tooth.
  • A new twist on an old favorite. If your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or chicken, try baking or grilling instead. Or try a recipe that uses beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ? you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!

Some General Tips For Comfort Foods:

  • Don't eat them often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You'll be cutting your calories because you're not having the food as often.
  • Eat smaller amounts. Make sure your portion sizes are not too large. This chart from the Food and Drug Administration shows what a serving size should be:
  • Try a lower-calorie version. For example, if a macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, make it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. And if you eat smaller portion sizes, that means fewer calories.

The point is, you can figure out how to include almost any food in your healthy eating plan in a way that still helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Being healthy in your eating choices is the key. Making the same healthy eating choices over time can lead to better eating habits. If you think positive and focus on what you can have, healthy eating can become a way of life for you and your family.

Healthy Recipes

Healthy Recipes
Links to healthy recipes with calorie counts and nutritional information.

Fruit & Veggies Matter
CDC's site provides easy ways and recipe ideas to add more fruits and vegetables into your daily eating patterns.

A Healthier You
Here are almost 100 easy-to-make, fun, and delicious recipes based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. No advanced cooking skills required, and they taste great.

Heart-Healthy Home Cooking: African American Style
From the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Keep the Beat: Heart Healthy Recipes
From the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Meals Matter
Developed by the Dairy Council of California, this site has recipes, personal nutrition planner, fitness planner and more.

Smallstep.gov
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Smallsteps.gov Web site provides a list of delicious recipes the whole family will enjoy--from appetizers to desserts.

Stay Young at Heart
Cooking the heart-healthy way, by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 

Want to Learn More?

Office of Minority Health  http://www.omhrc.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=6456    

Dietary Guidelines for Americans  http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/ 

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), “Treatment for Overweight/Obesity” http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/obe/obe_treatments.html

 Centers for Disease Control “Healthy Weight” Website  http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/home.htmll 

Improving Your Eating Habits  http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/eating_habits.html

Planning Meals  http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/meals.html

Cutting Calories  http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/meals.html

How Much Do YOU Eat?  How Much Do YOU Eat Poster.pdf

This information is for education only. It is not medical advice. Please ask your doctor for advice about changes that may affect your health.

Reviewed by:

Richard L. Lane MD., Managing Medical Director, KY

Lynette Cooper RN CMCN  Legal Specialist Sr