Nutrition Column – Theme for March is Â??healthy Eating, Healthy You’

Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. And today, which such a wide variety of foods available in supermarkets and restaurants, there is much room for choice in what we eat. March is National Nutrition Month and a good time to re-focus on healthful eating. The theme of this year’s campaign is "Healthy Eating, Healthy You."

Eating healthfully doesn’t have to mean going cold turkey on all your favorite foods. Nor does it mean giving up good taste. What it does mean is choosing high-calorie, high-fat foods such as chips, fries and donuts as "sometimes" foods and making lower-fat, higher-fiber choices your "everyday" foods. Rather than having donuts and coffee for breakfast every day, make whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk your everyday choice and donuts and coffee your Saturday morning choice.

Healthful eating helps you get the most out of life. A healthy lifestyle is the key to looking good, feeling great and being your best at work and play. It all starts with a healthy eating plan. One good plan to follow is the Food Guide Pyramid. Today there are many different pyramids from which to choose. Each has a little different focus, whether it be children, vegetarians, or encouraging the consumption of more monounsaturated fat and less refined sugar. While there is much bickering among those who promote one plan over the other, what’s important is to choose the plan that best fits your individual needs.

USDA’s basic Food Guide Pyramid has recently been bashed in the press for not meeting the needs of Americans. The biggest problem with the Food Guide Pyramid, however, is that we’re not following it. As a nation, we eat too many foods high in the saturated fats and refined sugars at the top of the pyramid and too little of the fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the lower part of the pyramid.

Regardless of the plan you choose, it’s important to actively pursue variety. This doesn’t mean rotating between McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s on a regular basis. Rather, it means expanding your range of choices and exploring new tastes within and among food groups. Eating a wide variety of foods not only promotes optimal nutrition, it provides the pleasurable aspects of eating.

Along with variety, it’s important to make moderation your goal. Healthy eating doesn’t mean feeling deprived or guilty. Look at the big picture. It’s what you eat over several days, not just one day or one meal, that’s important.

Finally, develop a personal fitness plan that fits your lifestyle. Variety is also important here. Find a variety of activities you enjoy and do them on a regular basis. You don’t need expensive exercise equipment or complicated fitness programs. Walking is one of the best exercises around and only requires good shoes.

Fitness, like a long, healthy life, is something we need to work on every day. Gone is the three-times-a-week guideline for exercise. The newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week