Time to Kick Unhealthy Eating Habits
By Phyllis Allen, Director of Nutrition, DHEC
We do it all the time: Declare we’re going to eat more nutritious meals so that we can be healthier, control our weight and improve our quality of life. Some of us actually follow through. Most of us don’t.
But all is not lost. If you’ve fallen, you can get back up and try again. And there’s no better time to do so than this month, since it is National Nutrition Month®.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the theme, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. How, when, why, and where we eat, are just as important as what we eat! Develop a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods — that’s the best way to savor the flavor of eating right!
We owe it to ourselves, our families and our communities to develop healthier eating habits. Poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles not only contributes to individuals being overweight, but can potentially lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Healthy eating means a healthier you
Still wonder what’s the big deal about eating healthy? We’re so glad you asked.
The Society for Public Health Education is among those leading the charge to bring more awareness to the importance of good nutrition. The society provides some compelling reasons regarding why we should be healthy eaters:
- To stay strong and active. Healthy foods have the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs.
- To lower your health risks. Choosing healthier foods can help lower your risk for chronic health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- To manage your weight. Healthy diet and physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight.
- To set a positive example. If you have children, the healthy food choices your child sees you make now can impact their eating choices throughout their lifetime.
Need even more convincing?
Just consider these statistics from SCaleDown.org:
- Two out of three South Carolina adults are overweight
- 30 percent of high school students are obese or overweight.
- Obesity costs South Carolina an estimated $8.5 billion annually.
So there you have it, not just one or two or even several reasons to eat better and get healthier; there are billions of reasons.
A few tips on becoming a healthy eater
While it can be difficult to transition from sugary, fatty snacks to fruits and nuts, don’t give up. And you don’t have to do it alone. Ask friends or family members to join you. We all need to learn how to eat better — and then follow through on the pledge to indeed do it.
Here are a few tips to help get you started eating and drinking healthier:
- Drink water or unsweet tea instead of sodas; it will keep you hydrated and feeling energized.
- On the go? Keep healthy, easy-to-eat snacks — such as apples, bananas, carrot sticks and nuts — handy.
- Skip the salt at the dinner table and look for low-sodium options for soups and sauces.
- Bake or broil lean meats like chicken breast or fish and remove the skin to cut the fat.
Some people struggle with cooking healthier meals at first. If you’re short on recipes, try some of those included in DHEC’s Healthy Heart and Soul Recipe book.
There is a wealth of information available to help you get started on your new journey toward good nutrition. Visit the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control page on obesity to get information on nutrition, healthy weight and nutrition counseling.