Shortly after the New Year many of you start thinking of doing something realistic about the weight you acquired during the holidays. I realize that for many of you the holiday eating will continue to Super Bowl Sunday and, for that reason, you might want to for sure try to practice some healthier eating habits.

Just about all the experts agree the key to healthy eating is the time-tested advice of balance, variety and moderation. In short, that means eating a variety of foods without getting too many calories or too much of any one nutrient.

The first rule is to try eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods. You need more than 40 different nutrients for good health, and no single food supplies all of them.

Your daily food selection should include whole grain products, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish and other protein foods. How much you should eat depends on your calorie needs.

The second rule to try is enjoying plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. I know most of you don’t eat enough of these foods. Do you eat several servings of whole grains and at least five servings of vegetables and fruits daily?

If you don’t like some of these foods at first, give them another chance. Look through cookbooks for tasty ways to prepare them. Just watch the sauces you add, as they can add lots of calories.

The third rule is to find and maintain a healthy weight.

Find the weight that is right for you; it depends on your age, sex, height, heredity and how active you are.

You know obesity increases your chances for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer and other illnesses.

But being too thin can increase your risk for osteoporosis and other health problems. Regular exercise not only makes you feel better, but it will help you maintain your weight.

If you practice the fourth rule, eating moderate portions, this coming year during the holidays you won’t have a weight gain.

If you keep portion sizes reasonable, it’s easier to eat the foods you want and stay healthy.

Remember, the recommended serving of cooked meat is 3 ounces — similar in size to a deck of cards. A medium piece of fruit is one serving and a cup of pasta equals two servings. A pint of ice cream contains four servings.

The fifth rule is to eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to out of control hunger, often resulting in overeating.

When you’re very hungry, it’s also tempting to forget about good nutrition. Snacking between meals can help curb hunger, but don’t eat so much that your snack becomes an entire meal.

Many of you need to also drink more water.

It is interesting to hear people talk about how much better they feel when they start drinking more water.

For those of you who say that drinking more water makes one have to go to the bathroom more, you are right, but then you get more exercise and that is good!

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