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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well


Nutrition from the ground up

Janet Hackert, regional nutrition and health education specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension


The American Dietetic Association, sponsor of National Nutrition Month in March, has released the following key points outlining the basics of good nutrition and healthy eating:


  • Start with the basics — eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. A healthy eating plan is also low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.

  • Make calories count by choosing nutrient-rich foods. Most food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients — and lower in calories. Be aware of portion sizes. Even low-calorie foods can add up when portions are larger than you need.

  • Focus on variety by eating a variety of foods from all the food groups. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, canned or frozen. Look for locally grown produce that’s in season. Vary protein choices with more fish, beans and peas. Include at least three servings every day of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta.

  • Make the most of family mealtime. Eating meals together provides the opportunity to help children develop a healthy attitude toward food. Children who regularly eat meals with their family eat more fruits and vegetables and less fried food, saturated fat and soda than those who do not. It also enables parents to serve as role models, introduce new foods and establish a regular meal schedule.

  • To manage weight and promote overall health and fitness, regular physical activity is important. Set a goal to get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. An example of moderate physical activity is walking two miles in 30 minutes, shoveling snow for 15 minutes or gardening for 30 to 45 minutes. When you are exercising moderately you will feel a faster heart rate, faster breathing and your body will feel warmer.


Build a healthy eating plan on a good nutritional foundation. For more information and lots of great ideas to eat well, go to the American Dietetics Association website at


Tammy Roberts, regional nutrition and health education specialist in Barton County, University of Missouri Extension contributed to this article.



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Last update: Monday, March 07, 2011