BY LISA WARREN
Maintaining a healthy weight can be quite a balancing act of expending more calories than we take in.
The trouble is - thanks to the modern-day super-sized drinks and meals - most people today eat more than they once did, resulting in ever-expanding waistlines for most Americans, said health and fitness expert Bob Kamieneski.
Kamieneski, who serves as the Wellness Program director at Takoma Regional Hospital, spoke about portion control and other healthy-eating habits during a health lecture held last Thursday at Roby Fitzgerald Adult Center.
About 67 percent of all Americans are overweight - primarily due to dietary habits and a lack of physical activity, Kamieneski said.
"People today are eating more than they use to - and more than they need to," Kamieneski said.
"We take in more calories than we burn, and the results are that we are overweight and obese," he said.
Joining the epidemic of overeating is an increasing threat of disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, pulmonary problems, sleep disorders - and even depression, Kamieneski said.
So where should a person begin to change?
Remember that small steps can add up to big successes, he said.
Make the choice to add something healthy to your diet this New Year - even if it is just one thing, Kamieneski said.
It could be something as simple as making a point to eat breakfast or just consuming a few extra vegetables, fruits and nuts on a daily basis, he said.
The trick, he said, is to focus more on achieving a balanced, healthful diet - and less on the latest diet trends or fast-food dishes.
Another wise choice is to "mix things up" in your meal planning, Kamieneski said.
Many people often fix the same recipes day-in and day-out. Try something new and different. Add a colorful fruit or vegetable that you have never tried to your grocery list.
"The darker the vegetable in color, the more healthy it is," Kamieneski said.
Try making a homemade vegetable soup on one of these chilly evenings - instead of running through the fast food drive-through for a burger and fries.
Consider going meat-less at least one day a week.
Cut down on the number of soft drinks that you consume. Remember, new studies have shown that the high fructose corn syrup in these beverages can actually make you overeat. (Please see related article on page A-9.)
Drink more water. "Being well-hydrated makes you think more clearly, have more energy and just feel better overall," Kamieneski said.
Time your meals. Don't woof down your food. Enjoy it - and the conversation at your dinner table.
"Reinvent yourself as a slow eater," Kamieneski said.
"Small changes can really impact weight loss over time," he said.
Here are more tips that Kamieneski provided for eating healthier in the New Year:
* Read food labels so you know what a portion size is. The label will tell you how many calories are in one serving size, but check the calories. One serving may be loaded with fat and sugar calories, so you may want only a half serving.
* Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages.
* Limit saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt and alcohol.
* Balance calories eaten with calories expended.
* Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy limits.
* Include more fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your meal planning.
* Aim for less than 2,300 mg sodium (1 tsp. salt) each day in your diet.
* Remember portion control. A portion of pasta, rice, cereal, vegetables or fruit should be equivalent to one cup or the size of a clenched fist. A meat portion would be the size of a deck of playing cards.
"Another way to think of portions is to divide your plate into four sections," Kamieneski said. "One quarter for protein and one quarter for starch or grain. Now fill the other half with fruits and vegetables.
"If you are trying to lose weight, use a smaller plate."