1) Engage in Mindful and Intuitive Eating
Eating mindfully is about awareness and intention. The core of this eating strategy is to slow down and be fully in tune with the food you are eating.  Mindful eating involves all 5 senses, so take notice of the appearance, aroma, textures, flavors, and sounds of your food. Setting the fork down in between bites helps you to savor and enjoy the eating experience.  Slowing down has also been shown to reduce the amount of food consumed at a meal by allowing additional time for the gut to send satiety signals to the brain.  Key principals of intuitive eating include ditching the diet and food rules mentality, adopting the mindset that “all foods fit” into a healthy eating plan, and honoring our hunger and satiety cues.  The more we get “in touch” with our hunger cues, the better we become at choosing foods and amounts that are both nourishing and satisfying. While different, these practices complement each other extremely well.

2) Add variety
The USDA reports a distinct lack of diversity in the average American’s diet. Other studies indicate that families cycle through approximate 9 different meals or recipes. Nutrition research shows that people who eat the same foods over and over again tend to be less healthy than those who strive for variety—but the caveat is incorporating more variety from the food groups that boost health, such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein sources.  In fact, one study showed that women who ate over 16 to 17 items from a list of healthy foods reduced their risk of dying from any cause by 42 percent when compared to women who ate less than nine items from the list.  Eating a variety of foods also promotes greater bacterial diversity in your gut and this diversity can be vital to health, immunity and weight management. Make sure to include all food groups each day and look to increase the number of items you choose from each group.  Seeking out more ethnic dishes and ingredients can promote diversity.

3) Make Friends with Fiber
Dietary fiber is considered a "nutrient of public health concern" because low intakes among most Americans are associated with increased health risks. When it comes to weight management, fiber may be your best ally.  Fiber make you feel full, which results in staying satiated or satisfied longer and eating less overall.  In terms of health, soluble fiber reduces the absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol, which can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels in the blood. Soluble fiber also slows digestion and the rate at which carbohydrates are released into the bloodstream, preventing rapid rises in blood sugars following a meal. Insoluble fiber provides the necessary “bulk” that speeds up the elimination of food and waste through the digestive system.  Whole foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans all contain fiber. Aim for about 25 grams per day.

4) Stop Drinking your calories
Government statistics reveal that the average American drinks about 400 calories a day.  For hundreds of thousands of years in human history, water was the primary beverage.  The abundance of caloric and specialty beverages available nowadays has only been around for decades.  Like most living organisms, we are designed to drink water. Scientific studies support the premise that the human body tends to ignore calories from other beverages. The exception may be milk—but this still remains relatively unclear. Unlike food, the body does not make acknowledgement of these calories by reducing the consumption of other foods. The bottom line is if the average American replaced the non-milk caloric beverages with natural zero calorie drinks, like water, (NOT artificially sweetened zero calorie drinks) and did not replace those drinks with other calories, average weight loss would be about 35 pounds over a year. 

5) Limit added sugars & processed foods
Over the span of a few decades the lifestyles of modern humans have changed drastically from physically demanding lives and agrarian diets to physically inactive routines and chronic over-consumption of calorie-dense beverages and processed foods containing refined grains (white flour) and added sugars.  These refined carbohydrates have been stripped of all fiber and nutrition and have negative impacts on health such as interfering with vitamin B, E and calcium metabolism; affecting stomach acid production and digestion; and the liver functions such as detoxification and the metabolism of fats.  A diet high in processed foods, added sugars and other refined carbohydrates is a principle factor driving the growing epidemics of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Limiting added sugars to less than 5% of your daily calories and consuming mostly whole foods can significantly reduce your risk.

These materials are provided to you by Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s
Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit www.blythedale.org/kohls.

Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well Program

Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.

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