Provided by the American Dietetic Association: Your Link to Nutrition & Health
Face it men! As far as your health goes your parents are the best snapshot you will ever have of your future. They gave you their genes, habits and outlooks and then ran ahead of you by thirty years to test them on the battlefield of life. If you don't like what you see, here's your opportunity to retouch that photo.
Your eating plan is a logical place to start when evaluating your health. By following these six steps, you'll be on your way to a healthier and possibly longer life.
1. Eat moderate amounts of a variety of foods. No single food has all (or enough) of the more than 40 nutrients you need. That's why variety is so important. Follow the food guide pyramid to help select what foods and portions you should consume.
2. Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Eating a diet lower in fats and cholesterol doesn't mean pulling meat, butter, cheese or egg yolks out of your diet. It means you should diversify and focus on lower-fat foods. Cut the fat by:
* choosing low-fat or nonfat milk and milk products, lean meat, fish, skinless poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and foods that are baked, broiled, steamed or roasted,
* limiting margarine, butter, oils, shortenings, salad dressing, whole milk, regular cheese, fried foods and rich desserts.
3. Eat plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. These foods supply complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. The typical American man gets barely half the recommended amount of dietary fiber. Men who eat adequate amounts of fiber are less likely to suffer from constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. These foods also help control blood cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
4. Be cautious about sweet deals. Sugars, candies, pies, cakes and other sweets offer few nutrients for the amount of calories consumed.
5. Shake the sodium and salt habit. Read food labels to find foods lower in sodium. Go easy on:
* salt used in cooking and at the table,
* canned, cured or processed meats (hot dogs, sausages and lunch meat),
* sauces, gravies and condiments,
* convenience foods (frozen dinners, canned soups and packaged mixes),
* salty snack foods (potato chips, corn chips, pretzels, etc.).
6. If you drink alcoholic beverages, moderation is the key. Alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories and offer few nutrients. For men, drink no more than two drinks a day. A single drink equals 12 ounces of regular beer, five ounces of wine or one-and-a-half ounces of distilled spirits.
Regular physical activity can make a big difference in your outlook on life. The natural tranquilizers secreted during physical activity promote a sense of well-being and help drain off tension in a natural, positive way. People who follow a regular fitness program feel more in control of their lives, appetites and body weight.
Inactivity is hazardous to your health. It's associated with heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Many men who don't exercise often think they just don't have time. Yet those who do exercise regularly have made fitness part of their routines - just like showering and shaving.
Getting started and sticking with a fitness program are the keys. One of the worst things you can do is nothing at all. Let physical activity become a natural, enjoyable part of your life - for the rest of your life. Make it part of your style.
1. Get a physical exam, especially if you are over 40, overweight or have any circulatory or orthopedic problems. Review your physical activity plan with your physician before you begin.
2. Find a variety of activities you like. They don't have to be elaborate or expensive. You could walk around the block, work in your yard or go dancing.
3. Start out slowly. Don't expect to shape up and thin down in one week. Overdoing it may cause injuries and discourage you from continuing your fitness program. Try to build up, over a month or two, to 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week.
4. Find a fitness partner or join a program that meets regularly for instruction. This will help keep you motivated.
5. Take time to see how far you've come. It's easy to notice the sore muscles, but also think about the good things: Do you feel less tired? Are you in a better mood? Do you feel less stressed?
NEED MORE HELP?
Talk to a registered dietitian, the authority on diet, health and nutrition, for additional information about eating habits and lifestyle choices.