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Article updated: 2/28/2013 7:45 PM

Health dept. promotes "Eat Right" theme for National Nutrition Month

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By Lake County Health Department

What do all these have in common: your signature, your personality, your genes, and your diet? They are all unique to you as an individual, just as your daily meal plan. In recognition of National Nutrition Month in March, the Lake County Health Department and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) encourages you to "Eat Right. Your Way. Every Day" by developing a healthful eating plan centered on personal health concerns.

We all have particular food preferences, possibly health conditions, and certainly different calorie needs. If you have a chronic condition like hypertension or diabetes, a carefully planned diet can have a significant impact on managing your symptoms and improving your health. By choosing to Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day you can prevent and manage some of the most common food-related medical conditions:

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Hypertension and Heart Disease

• Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight.

• Increase the variety of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood.

• Consume fewer foods with sodium (salt), saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains.

Diabetes

To successfully manage diabetes, you need to understand how foods and nutrition affect your body. Good health depends on eating a variety of foods that contain the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. A healthy diet for diabetes is not an elimination diet.

• Eat meals and snacks at regularly scheduled times.

• Eat about the same amount of food at each meal or snack.

• Choose healthful foods to support a healthy weight and heart including whole-grain breads, cereals, pastas and rice; vegetables and beans; fruits; lean meat, fish, poultry and tofu; low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt; and healthy fats like olive oil.

• Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar more than protein or fat. Keep track of the amount of carbohydrates you eat to ensure your blood sugar stays in good control.

Food Allergies and Intolerances

When foods are cut from your diet, you may be short-changing yourself on important vitamins and minerals. Work with a registered dietitian to help ensure you get the nutrition you need for your health and lifestyle.

• Learn about ingredients in foods. Eggs, wheat, milk and other food allergens often are called by other names. Food companies specify on product labels if any major allergens are contained in the food.

• Read labels carefully. Manufacturers might change ingredients of products without notice, so double-check ingredient labels every time you buy a food, even a familiar one.

• Talk with your day care, school and workplace. Make sure school faculty and staff are aware of your child's food allergies and that they know how to respond to adverse reactions your child may experience. Similarly, inform your coworkers of allergies you have. Some people are familiar with food allergies and know what to do if a person has a reaction; others may not and will need your help in keeping your risk for exposure low.

Obesity

• Establish a new balance between calories consumed and calories burned through physical activity.

• Include fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, which offer plenty of vitamins and minerals without plenty of calories while keeping you feeling full longer.

• Watch portion sizes to help manage calorie intake and cut back on empty calories from added sugars.

Did you know each of us makes more than 200 food decisions every day? Try eating right every day during March and develop a plan that can help you make healthy food choices throughout the year. For more information, visit: http://health.lakecountyil.gov/Population/Pages/Healthy%20Eating%20-%20Active%20Living.aspx

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