Pacific Northwest | April 4, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineApril 4, home
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Advice Worth Digesting
At last, a book offering a daily diet you can swallow
Two-thirds OF the health and fitness books that wend their way to my desk for potential review focus on shedding weight and looking better. And of those, most offer The Plan, which leads to The Answer. But I gravitated to a book amid the tall stack that only promised common sense and digestible, bite-sized tips.

The American Dietetic Association's "365 Days of Healthy Eating" provides concise, clear information for every day of the year. It starts with a New Year's Day suggestion to break grand resolutions into small steps and ends with ethnic New Year's Eve food traditions.

In between, the book lays out a smorgasbord of information about cutting through misinformation and hype, shopping and eating smart, and trying new things to make eating healthy palatable. It also includes more than 60 recipes.
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More food for thought

Got room for leftovers? Here are a few tips from the experts:

• Whatever you eat, eat a sensible serving size.

• Add color to your plate by eating more fruits and vegetables. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and some phytochemicals that may help fight some cancers and lower blood pressure.

• Expand your tastes to help get the nutrients you need.

• Try a new food or recipe at least once a month or new ethnic cuisine at a local restaurant. "Healthy eating gives you more energy and the physical well-being to help you stay healthy for today and the rest of your life," says Susan Moor, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Nutrition expert Roberta Larson Duyff wrote the 256-page book (Wiley, $14.95). She keeps it lively and fun and works hard to tie suggestions to specific seasons and days. It's a clever idea, and is, for the most part, well executed. My only quibble is that the book has no index. So when I want to find the Cajun recipe or hints on how to limit salt intake, I have to thumb through the book and hope I find them.

That said, the book is by no means a tough slog, and Duyff wants you to keep it nearby so you can thumb through it often. Each day's lesson is never more than a page in length. Here are some snippets from the daily advice that comes after New Year's:

Feb. 9: Do Energy Bars Boost Energy? Are these the best afternoon pick-me-ups for the office worker? They were devised for athletes preparing for a strenuous workout. So they often pack more than just a burst of energy.

March 17: Go For Green. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, fill your plate with green, from broccoli to green beans to green peppers.

April 23: Nuts about Almonds. A handful of almonds goes a long way in providing everything from Vitamin E to fiber. Duyff gives tips on how to use them in a smoothie; she also provides a recipe for a dish she calls Spicy Cajun Almonds.

May 6: Got the Late Night Munchies? The real problems with late snacking are that it's often not driven by hunger but habit or a lack of self-control.

June 23: Confused About Carbs? The Institute of Medicine advises that adults and children get between 45 and 65 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. The trick is picking the right ones.

July 29: Nutrition Data a Click Away. What if you need more than the basic nutrition facts? The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains an online database with information on more than 6,000 food items —

Aug. 3: High Five for Fiber. It's good for you in a number of ways. So eat high-fiber cereal, whole-grain bread and pasta, beans, and between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Sept. 13: Cook Savvy — Seven Ways to Fast Forward. As the summer concludes, your schedule gets squeezed. So stock up on quick-to-fix ingredients, no-cooking-required food or soups that can be reheated tomorrow, and so on.

Oct. 9: Hurry Up and Wait. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Sweep the floor while waiting for the microwave ding. Stretch and bend as the computer reboots. And if you must wait, at least stand.

Nov. 10: Beat the Bug. To ward off flu and colds, make sure you're taking in natural forms of vitamins C and E. Value sleep. Reduce stress by allowing yourself free time. Meditate. Exercise at some level for an hour a day if you can.

Dec. 24: My Aching Stomach. Watch out for indigestion during the holiday feasting. Don't eat too much or too fast. Avoid gravy and other high-fat foods (including most desserts). Don't eat tired or stressed. Go easy on the alcohol.

Richard Seven is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer. Paul Schmid is a Seattle Times news artist.

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