Food Guidelines: New Dietary Guidelines Published (cont.)

If you're unaccustomed to any activity, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before you get started. Within that guideline of 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day, stretching exercises for flexibility and strength conditioning, i.e., lifting light weights, is important for your bones. So make time and include stretching and strength training within your weekly activities.

Diet alone can be very effective for weight management. But when diet is combined with regular physical activity, weight loss is much more likely to be sustained over time. We have learned from successful losers that walking regularly, along with a reduced-calorie diet, is what generates the best long-term results.

MODERATOR: For more information about exercise, please be sure to visit Rich Weil, the exercise expert from the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic, on his message board.

MEMBER QUESTION: Can you recommend a healthy diet for a teen?

ZELMAN: A healthy diet for a teenager is the same as a healthy diet for an adult. In general, they need more calories for growth and development, but those calories should come from the same recommendations of the dietary guidelines. I always recommend a daily multivitamin with minerals for everyone as nutritional insurance, not as a means of replacing foods, but just in case your daily food intake did not measure up in a particular nutrient.

MODERATOR: Are there any particular foods that are singled out as being especially healthful?

ZELMAN: The guidelines recommend a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables. Variety is the key here which will also help satisfy the recommendation to get more potassium in your diet. Potassium is found primarily in fruits and vegetables: bananas, oranges, blueberries, bright red tomatoes. Think color. Usually the richer, the deeper the color, the more vitamins and minerals a food has.

MODERATOR: Any there any recommendations that deal with food safety?

ZELMAN: The 2005 dietary guidelines make a point of educating consumers about the importance of food safety and provide tips to minimize the risk of food-borne illness.

  • Wash your hands frequently, thoroughly. This is also very beneficial in prevention of cold and flu germs.
  • Make sure food contact surfaces, such as cutting boards, are rinsed and sanitized. Don't use the same cutting boards for produce and meats -- keep them separate.
  • When dealing with raw meat, make sure containers, cutting boards and knives are cleaned before the cooked meat is placed back on those same surfaces.
  • Cook foods to proper temperature; using a thermometer is your best bet.
  • Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are kept at proper temperature.
  • And lastly, avoid raw, unpasteurized products that can harbor harmful bacteria.

MEMBER QUESTION: How does fish fit into the new guidelines?

ZELMAN: Fish is a great and lean source of protein and some fish, such as salmon, also contain the healthful omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends you enjoy two servings a week of omega-rich seafood. Fish is an excellent means of getting protein, and the dietary guidelines encourage plenty of seafood, along with lean meat, poultry, beans, nuts, etc.

MEMBER QUESTION: Is it best to try to minimize processed foods? I'm not going completely organic, but it seems easier to avoid fat and salt and a lot of things you can't pronounce if you eat unprocessed foods.

ZELMAN: You are absolutely correct. If you eat more natural foods, not necessarily organic, but natural such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, fish, lean meats -- foods that have not been processed in any way -- you have much greater control over the fat, sodium, and nutrient content. This doesn't mean you can't have staples in your pantry; just aim for the majority of your food to be unprocessed. You can find unprocessed foods in the freezer section, as well as the fresh section.

MODERATOR: We are almost out of time, Kathleen. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

ZELMAN: Don't feel overwhelmed by these new eating guidelines. They really capture what most health experts have been recommending and no one needed to tell us about the power of eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Don't feel that you have to make all the changes at once. Gradually make small changes to your eating and lifestyle behaviors, with the intention that the small changes will become a permanent part of your diet. Enjoy. Bon appetit!

MODERATOR: Our thanks to Kathleen Zelman for joining us today. And thanks to you, members, for your great questions.

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