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Smart Choices: Eating Healthy at Any Age

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At every stage of life, smart food choices fuel good health. You can benefit from following an eating plan that emphasizes food choices appropriate for your age and personal needs.

“Everyone needs the same nutrients, just in different amounts,” says Keith–Thomas Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., a pediatric nutritionist and a New York City–based spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. ”Age, gender, activity level and body size are factors that influence your nutritional needs.

“Everyone should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole–grain breads, moderate amounts of low–fat dairy foods, lean meat, chicken, fish and legumes and small amounts of fats, oils and sugar. Dr. Ayoob offers additional suggestions for specific groups of people.

Tips for women
Women of childbearing age should choose foods rich in iron. Lean red meat, pinto beans, kidney beans, spinach, enriched and whole–grain breads, cereal, rice and pasta are good iron sources.

Eat plenty of low–fat dairy foods. Building and maintaining strong bones by consuming enough calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk for osteoporosis. Eat three or four servings daily of calcium–rich foods, such as low–fat milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, sardines and collard greens. Choose dairy and other foods that are fortified with vitamin D when possible .

Consume enough folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects. Foods rich in this B vitamin include oranges, grapefruit, dark–green leafy vegetables, whole–grain and fortified breads and cereals, beans, peas and peanuts.

Tips for men
Eat the proper amount of protein. ”Most men eat twice as much protein from meat as they need,” Dr. Ayoob says. ”And because most of the meat they choose is high in fat, doing so can cause weight gain.”

Eat two to four servings of low–fat dairy foods fortified with vitamin D every day. ”Men need calcium as much as women do, yet half of all American men don't get enough of the mineral to keep their bones strong,” Dr. Ayoob says. Other foods, such as cereals are also fortified with vitamin D.

Make lower–fat choices at fast–food restaurants. ”Men tend to eat at these restaurants frequently, and they usually choose high–fat menu items,” he says. Instead, they should order regular–sized instead of giant–sized burgers; side salads instead of french fries; and grilled or broiled chicken instead of fried chicken.

Eat two or three servings of fruits and/or vegetables at every meal. ”As a rule, men tend to eat far fewer fruits and vegetables than they need for adequate nutrition,” Dr. Ayoob says.

Tips for teenagers
Eat four servings of calcium–rich foods fortified with vitamin D (preferably four 8–ounce glasses of low–fat milk) every day. Teens need to consume enough calcium to ensure adequate bone mass for the rest of their lives.

Eat breakfast every day. Starting the day with a toasted bagel, fruit or vitamin D fortified cereal can improve a teen's performance in school and sports.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Many teens eat only one or two servings of fruits and vegetables a day, yet at least 2 cups of fruit and 2–1/2 cups of vegetables are recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's: My Pyramid.

Tips for children
Eat a healthful breakfast. Breakfast can help children do their best at school and play.

Eat more high–fiber foods. Eating a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables is the best way for children to satisfy their need for complex carbohydrates.

Don't overdo on snack foods high in sugar, fat and sodium. Instead, children should eat healthful snacks, such as popcorn, carrot sticks dipped in fat–free ranch dressing, strips of red, yellow and purple bell peppers, cherries, bananas, celery, cottage cheese and peanut butter.

Tips for older adults
Eat plenty of calcium–rich foods (fortified with vitamin D if possible) such as low–fat milk, cheese and yogurt, to slow the progression of bone loss.

Eat foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified breakfast cereals, or to take a vitamin B12 supplement. All adults ages 19 and older need at least 2.4 mcg per day of this vitamin according to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements.
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can cause fatigue and affect the metabolism of medications.

Perk up the flavor of foods by adding herbs, spices and lemon juice to compensate for a diminished sense of taste and smell.

Krames Staywell

Common, Self–Generated Time Wasters

Not Planning Ahead: When we don't plan out goals or objectives, we can be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task in front of us. In addition, when we start off on a project before planning, we can easily encounter roadblocks that we could've seen had we thought ahead. Create a list of priorities on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Keep it somewhere you can routinely see.

Being Disorganized: You create more work for yourself when you don't know where things are. Ask yourself if you can easily find work–related items; if not, rearrange your workspace so you can work more efficiently. Try to keep separate areas for works in progress and accomplished projects. This way you can better prioritize your tasks.

Procrastinating: We can waste a lot of time thinking about and putting off things that need to get done. Oftentimes, a task seems so overwhelming, that we don't know where to start. When this happens, break a big project into a series of smaller tasks, and give yourself a deadline. Reward yourself when you accomplish the goal. You can have other people check your progress. Ask a co–worker to check in on you regarding tasks you hate to do. Try to do undesirable tasks early in the day so you don't spend big portions of your day worrying about annoying tasks that you have to get to later on.

How to Use Your EAP

When help is needed call 1–800–433–2320 . The intake staff will ask for your name, employer and a brief description of your presenting concern. If an emergency exists you will be given immediate assistance. If your situation is not an emergency, you will be offered telephone assistance and/or in–person sessions to complete an assessment and make a referral for treatment if needed.

Meetings with your counselor are completely confidential. Your employer will not know you have used the EAP. No one will be provided any information about you without your written consent. Exceptions would occur only in the event of you being considered dangerous to yourself or someone else.

At the first appointment you should be prepared to give the counselor some background information to assist in formulating an action plan. Many people find it helpful to prepare a list of things they wish to discuss at each session.