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Eating right is vital to promoting health and reducing the risk for death or disability due to chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis. In fact, it has been estimated that dietary changes could reduce cancer deaths in the United States by as much as 35 percent.

Nevertheless, a large gap remains between recommended dietary patterns and what Americans actually eat. Very few Americans meet the majority of recommendations of the My Pyramid or the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Only three percent of all individuals meet four of the five recommendations for the intake of grains, fruits, vegetables, milk products, and meat and bean food groups. Only one-fourth of U.S. adults eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Unfortunately, poor eating habits are usually established during childhood. And more than 60 percent of young people eat too much fat, and less than 20 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

One size doesn't fit all.
Click on the Pyramid for steps to a healthier you.

Image of MyPyramid

Got Thirst? Get Water!

printable flyer (why we should drink plenty of water)

  • Water needs to be replenished daily. 3-4 Cups of water is lost through breathing every day. That’s before you sweat or go to the bathroom.

  • Water improves athletic performance because it lubricates joints and makes muscles work better.

  • Drinking water helps prevent dry, itchy skin, constipation, nose bleeds, acne, sinus pressure and headaches.

  • Water is the most vital nutrient to all living things. The body is 2/3 water. The bloodstream is 80% water and our brains are 75% water.

  • Water is vital for life. You could survive for 4-5 weeks without food, but only 5-7 days without water.

  • Drinking water helps you lose weight. Not drinking enough water lowers your metabolism, and could cause you to gain weight.

  • A bottle of regular soda or a sports drink each day can add 15 extra lbs. in 6 months. The average teen drinks 16 or more ounces of soda or Gatorade every day.

  • Drinking water makes us more productive. Lack of water is the #1 reason for daytime fatigue. Not drinking enough water reduces your energy level by 20%.

  • Drinking water saves money. Bottled water is about 22 cents per quart.  Soda and sports drinks run about 44 cents per quart.

  • Water improves brain function. A 2% drop in body water can cause short-term memory problems, difficulty with basic math and poor ability to focus on reading materials.

  • How much water do we need? Weight divided by 2 gives you the daily minimum number of ounces recommended.

Healthy Holiday Eating (PDF)  Get Acrobat Reader Web logo

  1. Drink only ZERO calorie drinks.  Holiday favorites like egg nog, cider, pumpkin spice latte, and hot cocoa can add hundreds of calories to an already calorie laden season.

  2. Avoid sauces and gravies made with real CREAM.  Roast or grill vegetables and season with fresh herbs or slivered nuts. Forgo the creamed corn, green been casserole, creamed spinach, whipped cream and high fat gravy.  If you must have a sauce, use one of the many low fat/non fat versions.

  3. Butter foods LIGHTLY or leave out altogether.  Many holiday recipes call for entire sticks of butter; mashed potatoes, biscuits, basted turkeys and sweet potato casseroles.  Use low fat buttermilk or chicken broth instead.

  4. Ditch the CRUST in desserts.  Many of the highest calorie desserts are surrounded by high calorie crusts; pumpkin pie, apple pie, cobblers, tarts and cheese cakes.  If you focus on desserts that don’t have crusts, you are more likely to eat something lower in calories, such as a fresh fruit, baked apples, cherry crisp, Jell-O salad, or angle food cake .

  5. Just use ONE plate.  Many holiday foods are very healthy.  It is the large quantities of them that make them unwise.  Taste everything, but keep all that you eat limited to one plate, filled ONE time.

  6. Reduce fat in holiday recipes.  Pureed fruit (applesauce, pureed prunes) can replace the oil in many cake and bread recipes.  Use fat free sour cream, yogurt and cream cheese in place of the “real thing”. 

  7. Don’t sample while you bake. Keep raw veggies available while baking holiday treats to prevent eating ˝ the batch yourself.  If that doesn’t work, try brushing your teeth, right before you start. Consider giving gifts other than food.

  8. Stay committed to health throughout the season. Two to three days of excessive eating isn’t the worst part of an unhealthy holiday.  Many people give up eating healthy every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.  They anticipate starting a “diet” on Jan. 2nd, which somehow justifies gaining an additional five pounds in the weeks before. Keep excessive eating limited to a few days, not the whole season.

  9. Take your own healthy recipe to the party.  This gives you something to eat while you are there, plus it provides others with option of making better choices. Search the internet for numerous healthy recipes.

  10. Exercise daily.  Even if you do overeat during this holiday season, limit the consequences by committing yourself to continuing daily physical activity.  You may not burn off all of the extra calories consumed, but you will keep extra pounds to a minimum.

PDF Resources Get Acrobat Reader

Healthy Halloween Party Ideas and Alternatives to Candy (flyer)
Do You Know Your ABCs handout about vitamins (Spanish version)
Say "No" to Soda tip sheet provided by Get Moving Kern
Get Snak-In tip sheet provided by Get Moving Kern

External Resource Links

Delicious Decisions
Dietary Guidelines for American 2005
Food Guide Pyramid Games...learn about nutrition while having fun
Iron: Build Strong Blood
Nutrition and easy way to teach and learn nutrition
Ten Worst and Best Foods

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Last modified: 12/09/08