Do Your Body Good: Eat Right

Every journey begins with one step, whether it’s climbing a mountain or promoting your health. NY Connects can help you along the way and connect you with local resources to help you achieve your goals.

March is National Nutrition Month. Here in Chautauqua County, we have home-delivered meals monitored by a dietician and staff. We also have a dining out program for seniors. This program allows seniors to purchase tickets for a fixed price that gets them an entree choice from one of our local participating restaurants. Here are some food, nutrition and health tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as seen on their website.

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your bowl. Choose foods that provide the nutrients you need without too many calories. Build your healthy plate with foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean-protein foods. Try these eating right tips.

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables plus beans and peas. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Choose “reduced sodium” or “no-salt-added” canned vegetables.

Add fruit to meals and snacks. Buy fruits that are dried, frozen or canned in water or 100 percent juice, as well as fresh fruits.

Make at least half your grains whole.

Choose 100 percent whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Also, look for fiber-rich cereals to help stay regular.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.

Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help keep bones healthy. Include three servings of fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese each day. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.

Vary your protein choices.

Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts, and beans and peas, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs.

Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars.

Look out for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt.

Make major sources of saturated fats such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not everyday foods.

Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.

Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often.

Enjoy your food but eat less.

Most older adults need fewer calories than in younger years. Avoid oversized portions. Try using a smaller plate, bowl and glass.

Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food.

When eating out, choose lower-calorie menu options. Choose dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains. When portions are large, share a meal or take half home for later.

Write down what you eat to keep track of how much you eat.

Be physically active your way.

Pick activities that you like and start by doing what you can. Every bit adds up, and health benefits increase as you spend more time being active.

If you are currently inactive, start with a few minutes of activity such as walking. Gradually increase the minutes as you become stronger.

Shop smart – get the facts on food labels.

Become a smart shopper by reading food labels to find out more about the foods you eat. The nutrition facts panel found on most food labels will help you:

Find out which foods are good sources of fiber, calcium, iron and vitamin C

Compare similar foods to find out which one is lower in fat and calories

Search for low-sodium foods

Look for foods that are low in saturated fat and trans fats

A GUIDE TO READING NUTRITION FACTS LABEL

Start with the serving size.

Look here for both the serving size (the amount for one serving), and the number of servings in the package.

Remember to check your portion size to the serving size listed on the label. If the label serving size is 1 cup, and you eat 2 cups, you are getting twice the calories, fat and other nutrients listed on the label.

Check out the total calories and fat.

Find out how many calories are in a single serving and the number of calories from fat. It’s smart to cut back on calories and fat if you are watching your weight!

Consult a registered dietitian.

If you have special dietary needs, a registered dietitian can create a customized eating plan for you. Visit www.eatright.org to find a registered dietitian near you and you can call NY Connects for information on local services.

Meals on wheels, the Office for the Aging – dining out restaurants, congregate dining sites are all good options for seniors to have better control over eating right. The Office for the Aging and the Chautauqua County Health Network work together to offer all Chautauqua County residents classes for diabetes management and chronic disease self-management. Our local hospitals all have excellent dieticians that can offer support in a variety of hospital sponsored programs. Many primary-care physicians are also working to offer classes to their patients on health and wellness. With so many people working to help us out – we should all take advantage of the services. So when you are talking with your health care team – ask about diet and exercise. Call NY Connects for Meals on Wheels or dining out tickets or other nutrition needs/concerns.

Healthy living is an active journey. For more food label information, visit the Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers.

You can go to www.eatright.org/nnm for more information as well. NY Connects is your one-stop call for information about services available to you in Chautauqua County. Call with your questions, and we will provide you with local services and resources in an effort to meet your needs. You can reach NY Connects by phone: Jamestown areas: 661-7582, Dunkirk/Fredonia areas: 363-4582 and Mayville areas/mid county 753-4582, fax 753-4844, emailccnyc@co.chautauqua.ny.us. You can come and see us at 7 North Erie St., Mayville. NY Connects is brought to you in cooperation from the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging and the Department of Health and Human Services.