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healthy oils, water, whole grains, healthy protein, fruits, vetablesGood nutrition means getting the right amount of nutrients from healthy foods in the right combinations. Having nutrition knowledge and making smart choices about the foods you eat can and will help you achieve optimum health over your lifetime.

 How can I figure out my ideal body weight?

Below is a formula that may help you estimate your body weight range. However, you should also consider your bone frame size, muscle, and genetics. Many people fall below or above these ranges.

Women: 100 lbs. for the first five feet plus 5 lbs. per inch for each additional inch over 5 feet. Then add and subtract 10% to get your body weight range.

Men: 106lbs. for the first five feet plus 6 lbs. per inch for each additional inch over 5 feet. Then add and subtract 10% to get your body weight range.

Is a vegetarian diet healthy?

There are many types of vegetarian diets such as lacto-ovo vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian and vegan. All three exclude meat, poultry and fish, however may incorporate some dairy and eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products meanwhile lacto-vegetarians and ovo-vegetarians exclude eggs and dairy products respectively. Vegans exclude both eggs and dairy products. All forms of vegetarian diets can be nutritionally sound if a wide variety of foods are included in the diet and proper attention is given to protein and other nutrients. However, if you are a vegetarian you have to pay a little more attention to your diet to get all nutrients that are needed for optimum health. The nutrients that are low in a vegetarian diets are Vitamin B12, calcium, zinc and iron.

How can I get more fiber in my diet?

The daily intake of dietary fiber should be around 25-30g or 1g per every 100 calories. However, most people eat approximately 15 grams of fiber per day. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. They are important in maintaining regularity and for reducing risk of heart disease. Good food sources of fiber are oats, beans, fruit and vegetables. If you increase your fiber, you will need to increase your water consumption as well.

Should I take supplements?

Ideally your nutrients should come from the food that you eat. However, if you eat less than 1500 calories per day or avoid certain food groups a supplement may be warranted.

The best supplement to take is a multivitamin that has 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Taking supplements that are above the RDA can be dangerous since some vitamins can become toxic at certain levels, as well as reduce the absorption of other nutrients.

How can I lose weight safely?

First, consider what may have contributed to your weight gain. A new schedule, eating out more often, a decrease in exercise or emotional factors may all play a role in your weight. It will be a helpful to be aware of these factors. Second, be prepared that weight loss is not easy. For many people losing weight can be a difficult task, however worth the work as a healthier weight can be beneficial in many ways.

Begin by looking at your food choices. Are they balanced, do you get too much of one group and not enough of others? How about your fat and sweet intake, although these are fine to include in your diet, you may be including them too often. Make 1-2 changes in your diet per couple of weeks, so that your changes are gradual and don’t feel too restricted. Also, don’t forget to look at your beverage intake, many people are consuming hundreds of empty calories without knowing it. Lastly, remember it should be a lifestyle change, NOT a DIET, as temporary changes often lead to gaining the weight back plus some. Below are some helpful hints:

  • include at least 20-30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week
  • keep a food diary to log what you eat in a day, this will provide you with the information you need to help make changes
  • be aware of why you eat and how full you are when you leave the table
  • watch out for extras like dressings, sauces, condiments
  • keep an eye on beverages like sodas, juices and alcohol
  • don’t skip meals – this usually leads to eating more later in the day and may have an effect on your metabolism
  • have healthy lower calorie snacks available for between classes
  • 1-2 lbs. per week of weight loss is the maximum you should shoot for, otherwise you may lose too much muscle