By Holly R. Layer - Contributing Writer
It’s National Nutrition Month!
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants you to "Put Your Best Fork Forward" as we gear up to celebrate this month. I love that play on words; isn’t putting our best foot – or fork – forward something we want to do in all areas of our lives every day?
Here are some ways you can put your best fork forward today:
Prioritize eating healthy, flavorful foods: I can’t tell you how many times I have to choose between pizza and soda at my in-laws’ and a healthier option I bring from home, but I can tell you which choice makes me feel better on the inside and the outside – the healthier one.
Embrace cooking at home and experiment with new foods: Try one new recipe a week that features something new to you, whether it’s spaghetti squash instead of noodles, or subbing quinoa for your morning oatmeal.
Keep your portions – including those of healthy foods – appropriate: By using MyPlate as a guide, you should fill half your plate with fruits or vegetables, a quarter with protein and the other quarter with a grain or starch.
Be active: Find a physical activity you like, such as group exercise classes or speed walking around your neighborhood, and get moving at least four days a week.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight: If you need help, find a registered dietitian!
Don’t forget! Registered Dietitian Day is Wednesday.
Q. I keep hearing about BMI. What is it and what does it mean?
Your BMI is your Body Mass Index. It’s a ratio of your weight to your height. You can do a complicated equation on your calculator, but it’s easier to simply use an online BMI calculator (I like the one from NIH).
There are four categories of BMI: Underweight (< 18.5), Normal weight (18.5-24.9), Overweight (25-29.9) and Obese (> 30).
A person’s BMI is used as a screening tool, and it’s important to keep in mind that it does not take into account an individual’s muscle mass. For example, a football player or body builder will have a high BMI because they have more than average muscle for their height. However, average individuals should not use that caveat as an excuse not to address a high BMI.
Because nearly 70 percent of the United States is either overweight or obese, it’s important for individuals to be aware of the impact their weight has on their health. Extra weight, especially around the midsection – "abdominal obesity’ – increases your risk for various comorbidities, including a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and elevated blood lipids.
So, what can you do to take responsibility for your own health?
First, jump on the computer and calculate your BMI using your current height and weight. If your BMI is greater than 25, I challenge you to make achieving a "normal" BMI one of your goals this year.
Ready for another acronym? Enter IBW. It stands for Ideal Body Weight. Your ideal body weight is based on gender and height and is easy to figure out.
For women, start with 100 pounds for 5 feet of height and add 5 pounds for each additional inch. Example: a 5-foot-4 woman’s IBW is 120 pounds.
For men, start with 106 pounds for 5 feet of height and add 6 pounds for each additional inch. Example: a 6-foot-2 man’s IBW is 190 pounds.
Just like BMI, IBW doesn’t take a person’s body type, muscle mass or overall fitness into account. For some, IBW isn’t realistic, however it is reasonable for most people to maintain their weight within 10 to 15 pounds of their IBW.
Lastly, even a 5 percent to 10 percent weight loss can yield health benefits. I can’t stress that enough.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re 50 pounds away from your IBW; weight loss is a journey and you aren’t on a deadline. First, identify whether you’re at a healthy weight for your height and, if not, take steps to achieve a healthy weight. Start by putting your best fork forward, today. You’re never more than one meal away from being back on track.
Holly R. Layer is a registered dietitian and a freelance writer. She works as a clinical dietitian at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda and teaches fitness classes at the Southtowns Family Branch YMCA. She lives in East Aurora with her husband, Andrew, a village native. She blogs at thehealthypineapple.com and her work appears monthly in the online version of Refresh. Send her nutrition-related questions at email@example.com.