Nutrition 101 - Archives
Facts about Fiber

Americans seem to struggle to meet their daily recommended guidelines for dietary fiber intake. Products made with refined flour, including various types of bread, rolls, buns and pizza crust, make up a large portion of our diets but are not ideal sources of dietary fiber. To meet the recommendations for fiber, eat more beans, peas, fruits, whole grains, and other foods with naturally occurring fiber. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the U. S. Dept. for Health and Human Services and the USDA, it's recommended that you get 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories that you consume each day.

Enhance Flavors to Encourage Healthy Eating

Make your meals more flavorful with these taste-brightening ideas. Add small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors like pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper or cilantro. Add tang with citrus juice or grated lemon, lime or orange peel. Acidic ingredients help lift and balance flavor. Enhance sauces, soups and salads with a splash of flavored balsamic or rice vinegar. Give a flavor burst with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, tapenade and salsas of all kinds.

Men Need to Build Good Bone Health, Too

Even if they’re in their 40s, men can benefit from taking steps to reinforce strong teeth and bones. Calcium from low-fat or fat-free dairy, dark green leafy vegetables or tofu, and vitamin D from fortified foods like milk and cereal are two of the best nutrients for your bones and teeth, according to dietitian and nutritionist Ximena Jimenez. As men age, the risk of heart disease becomes greater, and your 40s are the time to put more focus on heart health. Jiminez adds that fiber, especially soluble fiber found in peas, beans, oats, apples and citrus fruit, can help keep your heart healthy because it works like a sponge to soak up cholesterol.

Snacking the Healthy Way

grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy, lean protein or nuts. Try low-fat yogurt with fruit, whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese, or a small portion of nuts with an apple or banana.

Make Your Salads More Tasty and Nutritional

Pack more nutrition into your day with a colorful main dish or side salad. Keep basic ingredients on hand for a quick addition to any meal. Consider these combos when creating your next salad: romaine, grape tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, avocado and shrimp; mixed greens, chicken strips, melon, walnuts and feta cheese; or spinach, red onion, mandarin oranges and sliced almonds.

Liven Up Your Lunch

Prevent brown bag boredom with
these healthy lunch ideas. They’re easy to fix the night before and ready to go in the morning. Try whole-wheat couscous with chick peas or black beans; whole-wheat tortilla filled with chicken, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes; baked potato topped with broccoli, low-fat cheddar cheese and salsa; or spinach salad with sliced pear, red onion and low-fat feta cheese.

Easily Increase Your Fiber Consumption with Smart Choices

Good sources of fiber contain 10% to 19% of the Daily Value; excellent sources contain 20% or more. Look for whole wheat, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, whole oats, whole rye or wild rice. Substitute buckwheat, millet or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes.

Add Variety to Your Diet

Keep your meals at home more interesting by varying the types of foods you eat. When shopping, make it a point to try one new fruit, vegetable or whole grain every week. Select a type of apple you haven’t tried, a potato that is a different color (purple!), or a new flavor of whole-grain rice. Explore the international foods aisle or visit an ethnic grocery store to increase your options for healthy choices.

Amp Up the Flavor

Good sources of fiber contain 10% to 19% of the Daily Value; excellent sources contain 20% or more. Look for whole wheat, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, whole oats, whole rye or wild rice. Substitute buckwheat, millet or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes.

Nutritional Guidlines

Trying to reduce belly fat? Pay attention to your carbohydrate intake and avoid artificial sweeteners. Sugary snacks and other refined carbs spike blood sugar and cause pounds to settle in your midsection. Choose whole grains, beans, and vegetables instead.

Good nutrition is a Marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to change everything overnight. It took your entire life to adopt your current nutrition habits, expect it to take some time to change them. After two weeks of a consistent change, you have made it a habit. Pick two or three of the tips in LivingFit to start. Each week review how you have done and evaluate the areas that need improvement. You have this!  One step at a time is all it takes.

Keep It Simple

With all the new diet trends that seem to spring up daily, it's not uncommon to be confused about what to eat. Most diets that promise optimal health and weight loss have their good points. But at the end of the day, all diets use a gimmick or trick to make you focus on how to change your eating habits to be healthier. They're each based on ideas like eating certain foods at a certain time or cutting out certain foods.

What works best is really very simple: eating real food, cutting out junk, sugar, and processed food, and eating sensible portions. If you look at the science of metabolism and weight, it says these basic things:
  • We should stop the SAD diet (or Standard American Diet, which is heavy in processed foods, meat, dairy, flour, and sugar)
  • We should eat more whole plant foods (veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains -- not whole grain flour)

Adopt the motto "after 8 is too late" for snacks after dinner.

Evenings tend to be a challenging time for most people to control unwanted calorie intake.  We all know the pattern of a few chips or a ‘little’ bowl of ice cream while watching TV that often turns into a LOT of chips or a BIG bowl of ice cream.

Adopt the motto "after 8 is too late" for snacks after dinner.  There is no magic to this other than you are cutting out the unwanted (and usually unhealthy) food that are typically eaten at that time.  

Get plenty of sleep. Scientists have found that sleep deprivation increases levels of a hunger hormone and decreases levels of a hormone that makes you feel full. The effects may lead to overeating and weight gain.


That's the average number of calories Americans drink on a daily basis, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which showed that around 37 percent of our total daily liquid calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks. So where are all of these calories coming from? Here is a sampling of the calories hiding in your cup.
Be aware as soda and fruit-flavored drinks can rack up to 250 calories per 12 ounces.
"Juice" drinks (flavored, sugar-sweetened juice)
These can rack up more calories per ounce than soda! Orange, grape and cranberry juice drinks have about 216 calories per 12 ounces. Always check the labels before filing up your glass.
Fruit Juice
Be it orange, apple, grape, pomegranate, cranberry or another flavor, can contribute calories to your diet. It’s great that all the sugar in fruit juice is natural and direct from the fruit, but unlike a whole piece of fruit, fruit juice is very concentrated in sugar, which makes it high in calories. Juice can also count as a serving of fruit if you’re getting about 6 ounces, but if you’re filling a big 24 ounce cup, you could be pouring about 320 calories of OJ with your breakfast.

If you’re worried about getting in your vitamins, grab a whole piece of fruit for a snack or add some berries or sliced fruit to your yogurt or cereal in the morning. Anytime you can eat fruit or vegetables rather than drinking them, you are way be better off.

Reduce ‘Empty Calorie’ Foods

Currently, many of the foods and beverages Americans eat and drink contain empty calories – calories from solid fats and/or added sugars. Solid fats and added sugars add calories to the food but few or no nutrients. For this reason, the calories from solid fats and added sugars in a food are often called empty calories.

In some foods, like most candies and sodas, all the calories are empty calories. Solid fats and added sugars can make a food or beverage more appealing, but they also can add a lot of calories. The foods and beverages that provide the most empty calories and should be limited are:
•  Cakes, cookies, pastries, and donuts
    (contain both solid fat and added sugars)
•  Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks
    (contain added sugars)
•  Cheese (contains solid fat)
•  Pizza (contains solid fat)
•  Ice cream (contains both solid fat and added sugars)
•  Sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs
   (contain solid fat)

The ‘Quick’ on Oats

Oatmeal takes very little time to cook; so buying instant oatmeal may not be the best investment of time or money. A serving of oatmeal is 1/2 cup dry. Generally, instant oatmeal packets give you about half of that.

Buy plain oats, add a cup of milk or water, and you can still get a very similar product to the instant packets, but cheaper and without additives.

If you have a sweet tooth and crave something sweet and crunchy with your oatmeal, top the cooked oatmeal with fresh fruit (grated apple, sliced bananas, or frozen berries) and nuts or seeds. You can also make refrigerator oatmeal, where you mix rolled oats with milk or yogurt and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning, enjoy this cold or warm, topped with fruits and nuts.

Veg up your meals!

It is easy to do this and it adds nutrients and color, improves taste, lowers the fat and even saves you money by making your meal go further.
Here are some ideas on how to ‘up the veggies’ in your meals:
•    Add a side salad to foods like lasagna, pizza,
      sandwiches or burgers
•    Microwave frozen vegetables as a side
•    Grate vegetables into main dishes or pasta sauce
•    Add broccoli or cauliflower to pasta dishes
•    Make vegetable soup
•    Use leftover vegetables in foods like omelets and quiches
•    Add a handful of greens to your smoothie
•    Add a can of beans or lentils to main dishes

Watching Cals IN and Cals OUT

Sorry folks, there are no magic pills, no magic diets, and no ab blasters will help you and your body lose fat. It's hard to accept sometimes isn't it?

Fat loss is about the ratio of calories in vs. calories out. Plain and simple. But what most magazines and infomercials do not tell us is that in order to achieve our fitness goals the ratio is actually 70% nutrition and 30 % exercise. But that does not mean starve yourself and do as little exercise as possible. It means eat sensibly, have 5-6 smaller meals per day to balance the blood sugars, that will also keep the metabolism charged, and exercise on a regular basis, which should include strength training to maintain and develop lean muscle mass. This too helps boost your metabolism.

Once you know your Calories IN number…

Be careful when reading nutrition labels to check how many servings are in a package. Sometimes it looks like a package would be one serving, but it ends up being two or more servings.  If there are two servings in a package and you eat the whole thing, you need to double the calories and fiber listed on the wrapper when you do your food logging.

Know your diet pitfalls  

To improve your eating habits, you first have to know what's wrong with them. Write down everything you eat for three days. Then look for any patterns or ‘triggers’ that may have sparked eating too much or eating foods you want to cut down on. Do you add a lot of butter, creamy sauces or salad dressings? Rather than eliminating these foods, just cut back your portions. Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables? If not, you may be missing out on vital nutrients.

Remember, foods are not good or bad. Select foods based on your total eating patterns, not whether any individual food is "good" or "bad” in your mind. Don't feel guilty if you love foods such as apple pie, potato chips, candy bars or ice cream. Eat them in moderation, and choose other foods to provide the balance and variety that are vital to good health and weight management.

Nutritional Guidelines:

Healthy eating is about more than the food on your plate—it is also about how you think about food. Healthy eating habits can be learned and it is important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids.

•  Eat with others whenever possible. Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits—particularly for children—and allows you to model healthy eating habits. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.

•  Take time to chew your food and enjoy mealtimes. Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of our food. Reconnect with the joy of eating.

•  Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.

Grocery shopping

Grocery stores are designed to keep you in the store as long as possible. All 'essential' items (milk, bread, produce) are located on the extreme corners of the store, so you have to pass by lots of other tempting merchandise even if you're just running in for a quart of milk. The most expensive products are placed at eye level (except for kid's products, which are placed at their eye level). Products on display at the end of aisles are usually not on sale or a special buy. Once you know these details you can plan your shopping list according to store layout, and save time and money by avoiding impulse buys.

Choose a Healthy Snack to Nibble

Instead of eating fruit with your meal, snack on an apple while preparing dinner. That way you will not be tempted to nibble on unhealthful choices.

Drink more water

Make it your goal to drink more water throughout the day.  Not only will you feel more energetic but also you will tend to drink a lot less of sweetened, higher calorie drinks. So, skip the soda in favor of water. It saves money and calories. Why pay for sugar and water?

Avoid crash diets.

They are bad for health and most often, you will end-up regaining what you have lost once you stop the diet. Crash diets are not a solution to weight loss. It might seem as if you have lost a few pounds but the moment you give up on the crash diet every thing will bounce back
with a vengeance.

Lighten the Foods You Already Love

One of the easiest ways to cut back without feeling denied is to switch to lower-calorie versions of the foods you crave. A pizza tastes just as good with reduced-fat cheese, and when you garnish low-fat ice cream with your favorite toppers, who notices those missing calories?

And while you're trimming fat calories, keep an eye on boosting fiber. It helps you feel satisfied longer, so while you lighten family favorites, you can easily amp up the fiber by adding a cup of whole wheat flour to your pizza dough, or toss a handful of red bell peppers on the pie.

Don't forget to lighten the drinks going with that meal. Try switching from high-calorie favorites to diet soda or light beer.

Hate low-cal drinks? Mix your preferred drinks with a splash of the low-cal option, and then increase the ratio as your taste buds adjust. And don't forget to keep pouring that ultimate beverage: water!

Eat breakfast every day.

People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day. Breakfast also gives you energy and helps you think and learn.  

Drink Fewer Calories

Drinking beverages such as soda, fruit juice, sports drinks, alcohol, specialty coffees and teas can add up to many "empty calories". Nutritionally speaking, these calories contribute little more nutrition to our diets except for plain, old calories. This means that it can account for putting on weight. Many times drinking extra calories is not compensated for by consuming fewer calories from other foods.
Since it is important to drink fluids throughout the day, select them wisely. Drink skim milk, fruit juices and just plain, old water.

Why is healthy eating important?

Calories IN plays a very big role in our overall health.  If we over-consume calories, we will gain weight.  If we consume the wrong types of foods based on our genetics, we may be at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.  Therefore, it is extremely important that we pay attention to the types of foods we eat AND the amount of food we take IN. Research shows that people who exercise and lose 5% to 10% of their body weight can cut their risk of diabetes by nearly 60%.

Why are activities important?

Calories OUT are important for multiple reasons.  The #1 reason to be active is to keep your heart healthy.  When we move, we increase the blood flow in our body and help the heart become more efficient.  This will help us live a longer more productive life.   

The #2 reason for increasing activity is so we can keep a healthy weight.  When we are active, we burn calories.  The balance of calories IN vs. calories OUT is how we will maintain or lose weight.  The more activities we do, and the higher intensity we can do them, the more calories we burn.

This program will help you find the right balance of
Calories IN and Calories OUT based on your specific goal.
Get started with USAF Living Fit!
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