Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's In Your Diet Wednesday - Eating More Vegetables

Like many people, I have struggled with eating healthier foods.  In my teens and twenties, I ate everything in sight without a care in the world as to the calorie, fat, or sugar content.  Now that I am halfway into my third decade, I've discovered that I can no longer eat what I wish or very much of it for that matter, without buying new clothes.  What the heck is up with that anyway?!?!

I can see all you lovely ladies rolling your eyes at me now..... You're saying "What in the world does Jason now about health, weight loss and body image???  Try being in OUR shoes!!"  I agree completely!!  I don't know why you ladies go through all of the plucking, shaving, waxing, dieting, make-up, blow drying, and the like.... To say nothing of high heels!!  Don't get me wrong, I think women are beautiful and love all of you but I wouldn't trade places with you for all of the money in the world.

Before I get off subject..:-)  I have made some minor changes in my diet recently taking small steps so that I don't fall of the healthy eating wagon in addition to making some more serious changes in the areas  relating to excercise / cardio.  I've found that not only do I have to change my diet pretty seriously, I also have to increase my excercise in a significant way to lose the weight that slowly creeps up on me over time. 

My goal is to lose 25 pounds and maintain my excercise program to keep it off.  Part of that is adding a lot more fruits and vegetables in my life.  I've always eaten a decent amount but as time progresses, I've started substituting my regular lunch for servings of fruits and veggies as the article below mentions.

Read this article from
Here's what incorporating vegetables into your diet can do for you.
Published: Thursday, September 23, 2010, 7:00 AM
Monetta Harr
Jackson Citizen Patriot

Nick Dentamaro / Jackson Citizen Patriot
Ray Glessner of Parma picks out cherry tomatoes at Meijer on Airport Road.

"I learned how filling a whole can of vegetables can be," says Ray Glessner, who has dropped 25 pounds and 5 percent of his body fat.

"That's what helped me, a can of veggies a day, which is at least a cup, incorporated into my diet. I've taken a can of green beans and applesauce for lunch and it fills me up," he says.

Glessner, 43, learned about the importance of eating vegetables and fruits when Mandy Cook, a registered dietitian and health educator at Allegiance Prevention and Community Health, offered a 12-week series of weight-management classes at Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc., where Glessner is an engineering administrative assistant.

Meanwhile Lauri, 40, a technician in the psychiatric ward at Allegiance, started Weight Watchers in May as part of the hospital's push for employee wellness.

"I'm a huge vegetable fan. I'll bring a bag of carrot sticks, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and a mixture of fruit to work. I've lost 13 pounds, still have ways to go, but already I feel real good and have a lot more energy," she says.

The Glessners, who are also instilling good eating and exercise habits in their three children, are an example of couples who are learning the importance of what health educators have preached for a long time: Eat your fruits and vegetables.

While every vegetable and every fruit has its own list of nutrients, Cook says she prefers to talk about colors of vegetables and fruits, rather than specific ones.

"I explain that different colors have different nutrients and eating a variety of colors each day is very important," Cook says.

Cook recommends three to five servings of vegetables a day, which she says is easy to do because a serving is a half cup. Most people eat enough at one time to get two servings.

But getting people to eat vegetables and fruits isn't easy.

"I think it's more about planning. They are just not planning ahead or not going to the store or not packing them in their lunch," Cook says.

So in her classes, she talks about changing habits. For a habit to take hold, it takes at least six months.

"There are stages of change. When you are in the action phase of changing a goal, aim to eat vegetables twice a day," Cook says.

The thing she doesn't want to see happen is people following a healthy eating program and then "fall off the wagon."

"You have to anticipate things that might get in the way. Life happens. There are holidays, vacations, family events — your focus goes somewhere else for awhile. And if new habits aren't a priority, you forget about them. You have to have reminders to help you meet your goal of eating enough vegetables each day," she says.

Why you should eat these vegetables

Eating your vegetables means eating three to five servings of them a day. People who have high fruit and veggie intake have less chronic disease issues and keep their immune system up. Vegetables lead to good digestive health and less constipation.

Nonstarchy vegetables are low in calories, with 25 calories per cup being the average size with the exception of potatoes and corn. Also, all green, yellow and orange vegetables are low in calories.

A recent study of nearly 30 veggies richest in antioxidants put these three at the top of the list: broccoli, beets and bell peppers (the red kind). So that makes it easy to remember, they all start with “B.” They were particularly high in phenols — that category of disease-fighting plant compounds that does everything from bolstering artery function to inhibiting the kind of cell damage that might lead to cancer or Alzheimer’s Disease.

Here are some of the top vegetables and their nutritional qualities:

A top source of the antioxidant vitamin C, vitamin A, protein, thiamin, fiber, vitamin K and vitamin B6.

Bell peppers: A top source
 of the antioxidant vitamin C (more than oranges), vitamin A and lycopene, which might lower the chance of developing prostate cancer.

Beets: Full of blood-pressure-friendly potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron (higher than spinach), calcium and magnesium.

Kale: Contains protein, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and calcium.

Spinach: Contains 
calcium, iron, folate and vitamin A.

Asparagus: It is one of the richest sources of rutin, a compound that strengthens capillary walls. Has potassium, fiber, folacin, thiamin and vitamin B6.

Green beans: Has folic acid, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin A and dietary fiber.

Sweet potatoes: High in vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, dietary fiber and beta-carotene, which is good for the skin and eyes.

— Sources: Mandy Cook, a registered dietitian and health educator at Allegiance Prevention and Community Health;; by Dr. Mehmet C. Oz and Dr.Michael F. Roizen.

What if any diet changes have you made in your life?  Did it help you?  More importantly did you stick with it?  Tell us your stories.........

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