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Now is the perfect time to take a look at your diet

By By Beth Randall / 4-H youth agent
March 7, 2004
This year's theme for National Nutrition Month is "Eat Smart, Stay Healthy." We often think that eating healthy is impossible with today's fast-paced life style, but with a little thought it really isn't as hard as you may think.
First, have a positive attitude about food and your food choices. We often think of food as being "bad" for us and that is not true. The key is to eat a variety of foods in moderation. Watch your portion size and resist the urge to super size.
Next be realistic when setting you goals. In other words, don't set yourself up for failure by thinking you can give up soft drinks and all desserts forever. Instead, drink water with your meals and eat dessert only on special occasions. Making small changes that can be part of your lifestyle is better than making drastic ones that you can't live with.
Look for patterns. When do you eat things that you shouldn't? Perhaps like me it is when you are watching TV or when you are bored. Keep healthy foods in stock at home to munch on so that you avoid loading up on junk food. Eating as a family is also a good way to reinforce healthy eating habits and practice good table manners.
Get moving. Physical activity should be part of a health lifestyle. There are some ways to incorporate exercise into your everyday activities that don't take a lot of time. Adults can park at the far end of the parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or take a walk during a lunch break. Young people can meet friends for a walk instead of a milkshake or spend time playing ball instead of watching one 30-minute TV show.
Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University Extension Service, says, "Most people want to see immediate result. You didn't get out of shape overnight, so you shouldn't expect to become fit over night either."
I encourage you to do what you can to make some healthy eating changes. It is not easy, but your health is worth the effort.
For more information on nutrition, check out the Extension Service Web site at www.msucares.com.
Upcoming events
On Monday, our Cloverleaf 4-H Club for 5 to 7 year olds will have a program on nutrition. We will also be cooking. For more information call me at 482-9764 by noon on Monday. We would love for 5 to 7 year olds to join us.
If you are between the ages of 14 and 18 and interested in nutrition, the 4-H Nutrition Extreme: Adventures for a healthy Lifestyle contest may be for you. Through this contest you learn about nutrition, menu planning and evaluation, cooking basics, fast food choices, food safety, and much more. For more information on Nutrition Extreme or the 4-H Nutrition Project call me at 482-9764.

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