Yes, Congress passed a healthcare bill over the weekend. How much change it will bring remains to be seen, but one thing is perfectly clear: When it comes to your day-to-day health, and your family’s, you can make more of a difference than all 535 legislators combined.
A good place to start, according to Karen Donato, who coordinates overweight and obesity research at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, is breakfast.
No time? “It doesn’t really take that much time if you really think about it,” says Donato, who holds a Master’s degree in nutrition from the Harvard School of Public Health, and urges adults to “go beyond the coffee” in the morning. While Donato herself admits to often being rushed, she manages to fit in a bowl of her favorite steel-cut microwave oatmeal or other high-fiber cereal. “If I don’t have that in the morning, I’m really very hungry,” she says.
And being “really very hungry” means overeating later in the day.
That’s true for kids, too, and Donato says that after fasting all night, they need the good start to their day that breakfast provides.
When I confessed my own morning weakness for carbs (I’ll go for the donut or muffin over the fruit unless I really kick up the self-control), Donato reassured me that this is common, but that choosing whole-grain foods with protein can satisfy those cravings. And a single-serving box of healthy cereal is great on the go. (Compare labels and choose those with maximum fiber and protein, minimum sugar, fat and sodium.)
Other great options are low-fat yogurt with low-fat granola, cottage cheese, a whole grain English muffin with nut butter for protein, or even a hard-boild egg “as long as you don’t do it every day.” Not so great is ordering a to-go coffee drink with add-ons “that can often add 200 calories. Sometimes it’s the liquid calories that people don’t pay attention to,” Donato warns.
If you do need that late-morning snack, Donato’s credo is “everything in moderation.” Just be aware of what you are snacking on. Good snacks include fruit, baby carrots, ½ cup yogurt, or ½ English muffin (whole grain). “Snacks can work,” says Donato. “They can be part of a daily diet.”
Find tons of healthy-eating info, plus tips for staying active and reducing “screen time” on the We Can! site, http://WeCan.nhlbi.nih.gov.