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Eat This, Not That

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Who hasn’t heard the adage: You are what you eat? But it’s not just a smug expression that we poll parrot while offering our kids bananas when they’re begging for fat-laden snacks. There really is something to it.

We have two stories in 302Health that look at how food impacts our lives. In one, writer Pam George takes a look at lifestyle diets (page 22). These aren’t food plans to necessarily spur weight loss. Instead, they encourage a way of eating that will help you live longer and healthier. Pam explores the world of paleo, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease and flexitarian diets. She points out that while they have certain common characteristics, like focusing on more fruits and vegetables, they also have differences. Take a look and make your own decision about what might work for you, consulting a health-care professional if necessary.

To get you started on the diets, Pam also includes recipes for stuffed sweet potato, lemon chicken breasts and more. You won’t feel deprived with these flavor-packed dishes. My family and I don’t follow a particular meal plan, though I do keep track of what we eat. In addition, I have to watch out for my gluten-free dogs, too—yes, they really are. But it’s not my doing. Bear and Buddy are 7-year-old rescue cairn terriers—like the sweet, energetic Toto from “The Wizard of Oz” times two.

When my husband and I adopted them, we were told they must adhere to a “no corn, no wheat, no soy” diet or the gastrointestinal consequences could be severe. Who wants to chance that? For the past seven months, I have been reading the fine print on their food packages to make sure the forbidden items aren’t included. They’re doing fine—eating and thriving happily on the diet.

But I’m used to reading labels as I cruise the grocery aisles for human food. I’m ruthless. If water is listed first in the tomato sauce, I look for another. If the cookies have high-fructose corn syrup, they don’t go in my basket. And don’t get me started on shrimp from India. I’m not a trained nutritionist and I have trans-fats lapses, but I’m trying to be a better consumer. And that’s what I really like about the story our managing editor Drew Ostroski wrote on a 4-H/Cooperative Extension initiative (page 8). The goal of their Food Smart Families program is to teach Delawareans about better nutrition, cooking skills and grocery budgeting tips.

For instance, in the program, kids find out that if they drink a 20-ounce soda every day for a year, they will have consumed the equivalent of 13 bags of sugar. They also learn about healthy fast-food choices and how important breakfast is. Considering that 31.1 percent of adults in Delaware are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we should consider reshaping our lives whatever our age.

This issue’s stories have inspired me to follow up on some of my food goals—prepare more meatless meals and incorporate more fresh produce into my family’s diet.

Pass the fruits and vegetables, please.
 

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