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March is National Nutrition Month

Many of us remember the picture of the food pyramid that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) used as a nutrition guide for 19 years.   On June 2, 2011 it was replaced by MyPlate.   MyPlate is the current nutrition guide published by the USDA, depicting a place setting with a plate and glass divided into five food groups - fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy.   This system is easy to follow along with USDA recommendations to eat lean proteins, make fruits and vegetables half of your meal, choose whole grains, control portions and limit sodium and sugar. (Wikipedia)  


There are numerous books, magazine articles and websites that discuss nutrition and weight loss that contradict one another.   Some recommend eliminating virtually all carbohydrates while other say that fats are the culprit of poor eating and weight gain.   Any nutritional advice or diet that seems drastic, most likely is.   Good nutrition is a balanced diet with a variety of fresh and healthy foods within an individual's calorie requirement.  


Choices can be pretty straight forward when selecting a nutritious meal.   Would you consider a frozen burrito (laden with preservatives) or a homemade chicken salad a healthier choice?   Others are not so obvious, such as a granola bar versus peanut butter and crackers.   Many food items are touted as healthy but have a lot of added sugar and preservatives and not all foods in the same categories are created equally.   For instance, brown rice is a nutritious whole grain with fiber; whereas, white rice is lacking much when it comes to nutritional value.


It is important that everyone monitor his or her own nutritional needs due to medical issues, weight issues or overall health and make the best choices possible.   Get in the habit of reading labels and skip foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce or better yet choose foods that don't have labels such as whole foods - fruit, vegetables, brown rice, fish, chicken, beans and cheese.   Check out nutrition resources such as MyPlate, plan your meal ahead of time and shop frequently for fresh, healthy foods.   If it is difficult for you or someone you know who is elderly or disabled to prepare healthy meals or to shop for food, consider getting help from family members, friends or Synergy HomeCare.   Synergy HomeCare provides transportation, meal preparation, personal care services and companionship in North Orange County including Tustin, Orange, Anaheim Hills and Placentia.

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