Healthy Diet

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Healthy Diet

Healthy Diet Guidelines

The Basics

Healthy diet guidelines are wonderful. There are thousands of them now and, although they may disagree on specifics, they agree on the general basics:

- Use a current and reputable healthy diet pyramid to guide your diet.

- Eat more of what is good for you and less of what can harm you.

If only it were that simple. Healthy diet guidelines involve much more. Here are a few details and deceptions you will need to look out for.

The Details

You may know the healthy-diet pyramid from bottom to top, but some things it cannot tell you. Healthy diet guidelines are not complete without answers to questions like these:

- Are all fruits and vegetables—canned, frozen, fresh—nutritionally the same? If not, what are the differences and how big are the differences?

- Are all fats and oils the same or are some better for my heart, body, and mind than others? Which ones?

- Is whole wheat the same as whole grain? How do I know if I am getting an authentic whole-grain product?

- How can I avoid buying products with transfats?

- What is a healthy amount of daily fiber, protein, sugar, calories?

- Is the sugar in fruit as bad for me as the sugar in cake and cookies?

The answers are out there in abundance. Make sure you find them as you make your way toward improved health.

The Deceptions

The deceptions are not in the food pyramids. The deceptions are in the supermarkets and restaurants. One almost universal deception involves serving size, labels, and our own willingness to accept what seems obvious. The food industry wants you to believe that a single bottle of soda or fruit juice or a small frozen entrée are a single serving.

- One bottle does not mean one serving of 100 calories. More likely, you will be getting double the calories and double the sugar, but who splits a bottle of soda these days?

- A small chicken pot pie does not mean one serving. With a serving size of one cup, it probably means two servings. The nutrition label shows 600 calories and 16 grams of fat, but it's such a small pie. Guess who might end up eating 1140 calories and 32 grams of fat in one meal, not even counting a beverage.

Those who market packaged foods count on you to read the nutritional labeling and assume the information is for one serving. Gotcha. You can dodge this deception if you multiply the calories, sugar, and other label information by the number of servings in a bottle or package.

The Challenge

With a little diligence, you can get the details and dodge the deceptions. Think of yourself as a cunning detective, always alert to information that will crack a case or, better still, keep you healthy. Plan your diet carefully with healthy diet guidelines. Shop smart. Don't leave home without a calculator and a magnifying glass—you will need both. Read labels, ask questions, and become particular about your orders in restaurants. Act as if you are in charge of your own health and you will be.