We all know we should eat healthier, watch our weight and reduce our portion sizes. But that’s a mouthful to digest given bad eating habits that have festered for decades – styles of eating that have grown comfortable and familiar.
Still, the figures on obesity and its consequences are enough to jolt us out of our comfort zones.
In Washington State 25 to 30 percent of adults self-report obesity, according to the Center for Disease Control. That means they’re at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer – some of the leading causes of preventable death.
Change is hard, but in the case for healthier eating habits, the writing is on the wall and its warning is dire.
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Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to eating choices:
Water it down
Being under-hydrated is a major problem for most of us, says Lori Johnson, a mobile personal trainer with Fresh Start Fitness & Nutrition in Bellingham.
“We need a half ounce of water for every pound of body weight,” she said. “And being even slightly dehydrated prompts you to eat sodium-rich foods, which increases your dehydration.”
It’s wise to monitor your water intake to ensure you’re drinking enough. Caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee do not count as they are dehydrants, cautions Johnson, who suggests folks figure out how much water they’re consuming and increase it gradually every day.
The key to healthy eating is working out your meals ahead of time so you don’t find yourself making hasty choices on an urgently rumbling stomach.
Johnson insists her clients write out a week’s worth of meals to get them thinking and planning ahead. Taking food to work is a crucial part of the deal – but the food you take shouldn’t be high in carbohydrates.
“If it is, and if your job is sedentary, it will raise your blood sugar and cause sleepiness,” she says.
The processed food we’ve grown to love has scary levels of sodium.
We need 2,300 mg of sodium daily according to the American Heart Association, but the average American consumes 3,400 mg. Watch out for those breads and rolls, pizzas, ready-to-go soups, cold cuts and salted snacks – some of the guiltiest foods for high sodium content.
Perks of Potassium
Balance your sodium against your potassium intake with a ratio of 1:3, advises Johnson.
Good sources of potassium include cauliflower, nuts, dates, yogurt and avocado. She recommends using the app MyFitnessPal to track potassium intake and has seen rapid results for clients who make changes.
“It boosts their energy, they start to do more and their weight quickly starts to change,” she says.