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Eating right no fad
New year time to shed old habits
A new year often means trying to eat healthier. One way to do so is to add color from fresh fruits and veggies. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

If you’re going

• What: “The Price Is Right: Healthy Eating Style”
• When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday
• Where: Hampton Park Library, 5345 Settingdown Road
• Features: Audience participation, prizes and number games focusing on health issues

After weeks of delectable treats and holiday feasts, it’s no surprise that many Americans turn their focus to healthy eating in January.

Health-related New Year’s resolutions are “among the most popular, if not the most,” said Forsyth County extension agent Michele Melton.

To prepare to eat right, Melton is inviting folks to “come on down” Tuesday night to the Hampton Park library for a free healthy eating seminar modeled after “The Price Is Right” game show.

“It’s fun, it’s interactive and it’s a really good reminder, especially this time of year about some of those habits that we know we need to get better at,” she said.

Some little measures toward better eating can lead to some big health benefits, she said.

Addie Ackerson, a registered dietician at Northside Hospital-Forsyth, has added avoiding fad diets to the top of her list of tips.

“Fad diets are often really restrictive and they don’t provide the nutrition needs required for optimal health,” she said. “They pretty much cannot be followed successfully long term.”

Filling your plate with color, or many fruits and vegetables, is a good way to ensure your body’s getting the right nutrition, Ackerson said.

For better nutrition and weight loss, she advises folks to follow the practice of “clean eating,” which entails avoiding processed foods and opting for those that are whole and natural.

She said it’s sometimes thought of as “shopping the perimeter of the grocery store.”

“You’re getting fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh dairy, fresh meat, and staying away from things that are already preserved,” Ackerson said.

Along those same lines, it’s best to cook in the home for most meals, she said, to avoid the high fat and sodium often found in restaurant food.

While the meals will take some planning, they can be less expensive, she said, and also a huge help in sticking to the right path.

“A lot of people get hung up on convenience, but the problem is that you can help that with planning,” Ackerson said. “Then you won’t have to resort to such instant, convenience foods, which are often not good for you.”

As a nutritionist at the hospital, Ackerson often works with people on their diets in managing medical conditions.

Sticking to a healthy eating plan can reduce the risk of suffering from many of these conditions, she said, while also increasing your body’s general well-being.

Melton said the perks of weight loss and eating right are lifelong.

“If you can manage your weight, you will see more energy, more productivity, lower risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke,” she said.

“The more physically healthy you are, the better a life you can lead because your body functions as it should.”

Those who attend the program offered Tuesday usually tell Melton it “serves as a good reminder” for what they should be eating and why.

One of the simplest and best ways to improve eating habits, she said, is to eat only the amount that’s in a serving size.

“Paying attention to those portion sizes can help control our weight with sometimes not as much effort,” she said.

For example, a portion of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards, a recommendation that Melton said often surprises.

She also advises people looking to shed weight that there is no “magic pill.” Success comes through gradual weight loss and healthy habits.