by Tiffany Ricci
The days when research keeps reporting conflicting results of what to
eat and what to avoid, it’s difficult to decipher what exactly is
healthy. Complex carb, no-carb, low-fat, no-fat,
trans-fat-free, antioxidants, phyto-chemicals, low-glycemic index,
Atkins, South Beach—it’s all too much to digest.
Let’s take the confusion out of good nutrition and use a little common
sense. A healthy diet is what we’re basically looking for,
right? But what is a healthy diet? What does that mean? Though I can’t
give you an exact meal-by-meal, calorie-for-calorie breakdown of your
individual needs, I can help ease the stress of planning a healthy diet.
Six diet planning principles should be followed when tailoring a diet
to your needs. And there’s an acronym to help you remember: ABCD-MV.
Is your diet adequately meeting your needs? Consider vitamins,
minerals, and hydration; are you adequately nourished? Enough calories,
but not too much? Your calorie needs depend on your basal energy
expenditure (how many calories you need to survive) and physical
activity level. A registered dietitian can help you find your
Caloric intake and physical activity (PA) are positively correlated
(research talk for closely linked). If your PA goes up, so should
caloric intake. If caloric intake increases, you should balance it out
with PA. Balance is also important in the types of foods you are
eating. Too much of any one nutrient will throw off the others. A good
balance of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water
will lead to better overall nutrition.
control: Portion control is essential to calorie control. Consider
measuring out your food according to the food label serving size for a
week. Are you eating too much cereal? Not enough vegetables with
supper? Just exactly how big is that steak on the grill? This habit can
be difficult to develop since Americans tend to over-portion
everything. We want value, right? But, before you try to eat the $15
you spent on the buffet, consider the cost to your waistline and
health. Portion control can help your health.
density: When choosing foods, choose the most nutrient-dense foods; the
ones that give you more bang for your calorie buck. Consume foods that
provide vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber instead of
empty-calorie foods that tend to provide ample amounts of sugar and
fat. Between a Big-Mac and a grilled chicken salad with nuts, fruit,
veggies, and a bit of balsamic vinaigrette, which one provides a higher
density of nutrients? Your best bet would be the chicken salad.
You’ve heard this one before: Everything in moderation. It makes sense.
Forget deprivation. Enjoy your cravings with modesty. Just a bite of
chocolate instead of a large candy bar. A handful of pretzels, not the
Another cliché—variety is the spice of life — and the diet too. Expose
your palate to new spices, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and pastas. The
options are endless. A variety of color, texture, and tastes will
enhance your diet and broaden your healthy options.
these guidelines to form your diet. With a healthy nutrition base and
some physical activity every day, you are on your way to better
So when you find those complicated, conflicting research reports at the
forefront, remember ABCD-MV and find comfort in the sound diet-planning
Friday, Jan. 9, 2009