???????????????????????????????????????Seventeen years ago, AARP teemed up with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine the influence of dietary and lifestyle choices on the incidence of life-threatening diseases on over half a million people ages 50 and older.

What the collaboration yielded is an understanding of how specific foods affect our bodies, for good or for ill, and the knowledge of how to adjust our dietary choices to stay healthy and lose weight.

And here are the final 6 guidelines, part of what’s called the AARP New American Diet:

Include low-fat dairy foods.

Low-fat dairy products are a good source of two essential elements for strong bones that 30% of women are deficient in:  calcium and vitamin D.  And a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that persons with the highest daily intake of low-fat dairy lost 38% more weight than those with the lowest.

Still, moderation is the key.  The AARP-NIH study recommends consuming no more than three portions of low-fat dairy to maximize benefits to health.

Be wary of “diet” foods.

Doctors see many patients who are gaining weight on “diet” foods because the foods are loaded with sugar to compensate for the flavor lost when the fat’s removed.  And because the food is processed, the empty calories will short you on nutrients.

Instead of diet foods, eat small portions of higher-fat food.

Don’t eat out for two weeks.

Some experts maintain that restaurant portions can be three times larger than normal or recommended serving portions.

Fruits and vegetable servings should be the size of your fist.

Meat and poultry servings should be no larger than a deck of cards.

Fish servings should be the size of a checkbook.

After two weeks, you’ll have a better idea about what amount to eat of which foods and will be equipped to make better food choices when eating out.

        Study food labels.

 A US National Health Interview Study found that women who regularly read food labels are an average of 9 pounds lighter than people who don’t.

Snack often.

The secret to snacking is smart snacking and snacking placement.

A variety of data shows that people who snack mid-morning and mid afternoon lose more weight than those who eat three large meals.  Snacking keeps insulin levels steady, which may prevent hunger and overeating at lunch and dinner.

Healthy snacks include fruit, baby carrots, hummus or a handful of nuts.

Chew gum.

Chewing gum releases hormones that tell your brain that you’re full.  It can also break your habit of nibbling while you’re watching TV or preparing meals.

Choose sugar-free gum that doesn’t cause cavities.

SOURCE:  AARP the Magazine  December 2012/January  2012


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