Obesity is growing at an alarming rate in the United States with one in three children now overweight or obese.
In Chicago, the obesity rate is double the national average for children age three to seven.
It’s become so urgent, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a campaign, called “Let’s Move” to end childhood obesity in one generation.
So we begin with breakfast, the most important meal of the day, but one bad decision can lead to another, and then another.
The Institute of Medicine says adults should eat no more than 2,000 calories a day, but with processed and fast food so common in the American diet, many people easily top that by a couple thousand calories.
It’s no wonder the average American is about 23 pounds overweight.
Jewel-Osco dietitian Kim Kirchherr says to change that, you have to first start at the grocery store.
Make a grocery list so you can shop quickly and stay within budget.
She suggests that you never go to the store hungry, because then it becomes difficult not to make impulsive purchases.
To get the nutrients that you need, she suggests that you “eat the rainbow.”
Registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner agrees, and she explains why each color represents different antioxidants, flavonoids, and other good-for-you substances.
- Red: anthocyanins and lycopene
- Green: lutein
- Orange and yellow: carotenoids
- Purple, red, and blue: antioxidants
- White: allicin
If you’re wondering about organic foods, here's one tip: look for the USDA stamp that certifies foods as organic.
That website offers a lot more information about organic versus conventional. (Organic Consumers Association).
Many studies have been done on organic foods and their conventional counterparts.
The Environmental Working Group compiled two lists comparing conventionally grown produce and produce grown organically. (Dirty Dozen).
One way to make sure you know exactly how your produce is grown: buy it from a farm. We may live in a major urban area, but in Naperville, for example, just one place that you can go is the Green Earth Institute.
During a particularly busy week, getting to a grocery store is difficult, so make sure your freezer is stocked. Frozen is just as nutritious as fresh.
Also, there's no need to be deathly afraid of carbs. They're the brain's fuel source, and if you look for “whole wheat” on the label or the whole grain stamp, you're getting much needed nutrients.
Another food people may fear: cheese. Choose fat free, reduced fat, or light cheese and you're getting the dairy many registered dietitians suggest.
If fat free milk is something you won't drink, try one percent. One percent chocolate milk is the dieter's answer to dessert.
Here are two easy shopping tips: first, 90 percent of the food in your cart should come from the perimeter of the store.
There's something called the five twenty rule that makes label reading easier if you're finding it difficult to decipher the back of the package.
Bottom line is if you're going to transform your diet (American Dietetic Association), watch your overall calorie intake for the day. (USDA Economic Research Service).