Sunday, February 20, 2011

I was quoted in a local article

This article appears in the Winnetka-Glencoe Patch, written by

Local Nutritionists Weigh in on Healthy Eating

After my New Year's diet failed, I turned to three local experts for advice on what it means to 'eat healthy' and how to instill good habits in my daughter.

My New Year’s diet failed miserably after a few short weeks. I have a hard time sticking to rules and regimens. I like to shop for and cook what appeals to me on any given day, and I don’t have the energy or patience to make separate meal plans for myself and my daughter.
I haven’t given up on my New Year’s resolution, though, and I’d still like to know: What does it mean to "eat healthy?" How do you sort through all of the conflicting information out there? What’s the best way to help kids to make sensible choices?
I turned to three local nutritionists for advice, and they all agree on some basic points. Proper nutrition for the whole family begins by gradually incorporating changes, having a plan and encouraging kids to help shop and cook.
Healthy eating is a family affair
Winnetka nutritionist Anne Milling suggests getting your kids involved in meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. If they feel like they have some control over the process, they’re more likely to take an interest in it.
She also advises parents to introduce as many fruits and vegetables to kids as early as possible.
 "A young palate is naturally averse to trying new foods,” Milling says. “If your child is resistant to something for the first time, [you should] have them try it more than once.”
For meal planning, Milling uses “the plate model” for adults and kids. With a 9-inch plate as a guide, half of the plate should contain a nonstarchy vegetable, a quarter should have a starch and the remaining quarter a protein. Make your child’s plate attractive and appealing. Sometimes children will refuse to eat if food doesn't "look right" to them.
“The best way to instill healthy eating habits in kids is to model good behavior,” says Jason Bussell, a North Shore acupuncturist and author of The Asian Diet.  “Psychologists know that our children learn vastly more from what we do than from what we tell them. Teach your children from an early age that we do not just eat for the pleasure of taste.  We have to feed all our organs, not just our tongues.”
Make gradual changes
Extreme diets don’t work, and drastic changes eventually backfire. In The Asian Diet, Bussell writes: “The best way to get into balance is to live a little more in balance today than yesterday, and not to grossly overcompensate for yesterday’s mistakes.”
“Food changes take a long time to play out, so it's important to take the long view and not expect immediate results,” Bussell says. “We didn't get out of shape overnight; we should not expect to get back into shape overnight.
"With slow, sensible change, the pounds will naturally melt off and stay off,” he added.
North Shore nutritionist Karen Raden agrees. “Whether clients come to me for weight loss or dietary adjustments, I tell them to begin where they’re at,” she says. “Huge changes are not right for everyone.”
Milling also advises her clients to make simple adjustments, like doubling up on vegetable servings. “It’s better to tweak and make little changes,” she says.
Have a plan
Finally, it’s important to plan ahead, even just a few days in advance. Milling noted a study she read recently. It found people who were fit spent only six minutes more each week than the average person in planning out their regimen.
“I advise my clients to take that little bit of extra time and think ahead," she says. "It keeps them from stopping at McDonald’s on the way home from work or reaching for the junk food in the vending machine.”
As an example, she suggests packing a healthy snack in the briefcase or the car in case you’re running late after work.
“We lead hectic lives and convenience food is everywhere,” Raden says. “Nutrition takes thinking. Write out grocery lists before going to the store. Read labels. Slow down and take time to educate yourself.”
“Many restaurants post menus and nutritional information on their website,” Raden continues. “This way you can find out what the lower-calorie or lower-fat options are before you go.”
Bussell concludes with some food for thought.
“We have lost the connection between what we put in our bodies and how they function,” he says. “We need to become aware of the importance of how we are nourishing ourselves.”

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