You are what you eat

What is “healthy” eating?

Having trouble keeping track of the latest food and diet crazes? You’re not alone. It seems every few months there are new recommendations about what to eat or what not to eat. From fat to salt (sodium) to sugar, it’s hard to make sense of what’s good for you and how much is OK. So what is “healthy” eating all about?

As with exercise [link to “work your body” section], check with your doctor or other healthcare provider before making any big changes to your diet, especially if you have any health issues or concerns. Here are some general tips on healthy eating from ChooseMyPlate.gov

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.  
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda.

Want help keeping track of what you eat? There are many online tools such as My Pyramid Tracker that can help you track your exercise and diet. If you have a smart phone, there are certain applications that can also help you track these things.

The bottom line is that food helps nourish us and is also something to enjoy. A key to healthy eating is finding a good balance where you aren’t eating too much or too little of something and are giving your body the nutrients it needs. Healthy eating combined with regular exercise [link to “work that body”] can help you take charge of your health and can make you feel good.

Want to know more about nutrition and obesity prevention? Check out this information from the Mayo Clinic

What are eating disorders?

While eating can be pleasurable for many people, some of us can have complicated relationships with food and/or exercise. But when do you know if your relationship with food isn’t healthy?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an eating disorder is “an illness that causes serious disturbances to your everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating”.

Some common eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Extreme thinness, intense fear of gaining weight, and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors.
  • Binge-eating Disorder: Loss of control over eating. People are often overweight or obese and experience guilt, shame, and distress about their binge-eating, which can lead to more binge-eating.

Is there treatment available for eating disorders?

If you’re experiencing unexplained extreme weight gain or loss, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare provider. In addition to eating disorders there are other medical conditions such as HIV and diabetes that can influence your weight. Also, certain medications can impact your weight. Your healthcare provider can help you figure out what’s going on.

If your healthcare provider determines you have an eating disorder, he or she may recommend some of the following treatment options:

  • Individual, group, and/or family therapy
  • Medical care and monitoring
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Medications

Note: In some extreme cases, especially involving excessive weight loss, your provider may recommend that you are hospitalized until your weight becomes stable.

Sources: ChooseMyPlate.gov, My Pyramid Tracker, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Mental Health