Q: Why do we need fat in our diets at all?
A: Our bodies need fat to foster normal growth and development, to provide a source of energy (fat is the most concentrated source of energy), and to assist in the absorption of certain vitamins (like vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids). Fat provides a cushioning for our organs and helps to maintain cell membranes. It’s a source of essential omega 3 and omega 6 fats. Fat also adds taste, consistency and stability to foods.
Q: What are unhealthy fats?
A: Health experts recommend limiting your total fat intake to no more than 30 to 35% of total calories consumed, because at the end of the day it is the total fat in your diet that has the most impact on your health. Often when we look at fats we look at how they perform in the body. Saturated and trans fats are more likely to be turned into artery-clogging cholesterol than unsaturated fats. Food sources of healthier fats include many vegetable oils, whole grains, avocados, nuts, seeds and fish. Food sources of unhealthier fats include full-fat dairy dairy products, red meats and hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats.
Q: What are “complex carbohydrates”?
A: Carbohydrates are found in every plant food and should make up a large portion of any healthy diet. They are the most easily metabolized source of energy for the body and allow the protein and fat that you eat to be used for building and renewing cells rather than used up for energy. Complex carbohydrates are typically unrefined plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. A good way to assess the suitability of carbohydrate choices is to look at the amount of fiber on the nutrient facts panel—simple carbohydrates in foods such as refined breads and pastas, pastries, candies and soda have very little fiber per serving.
Here is a sample of complex carbohydrate foods on the DineWise menu:
• White and Wild Rice
• Green Beans Almondine
• Roasted Red Potatoes
• Broccoli Florets
• Asparagus Spears
• Corn and Asparagus Medley
Q: What foods are good sources of lean protein?
A: Fish, seafood, chicken breast, lean red meats and legumes are all examples of lean protein. Here are some options available in the DineWise Healthy Lifestyle Meal Plans that allow you to incorporate lean protein easily into your diet:
• Catfish Fillet
• Chicken Breast
• Pork Loin
• Turkey Breast
Q: What is considered regular physical activity?
A: Regular physical activity can include:
• Moderate-intensity activities for at least 30 minutes per day, at least 5 days of the week, or
• Vigorous-intensity activities for 20 to 60 minutes per day, at least 3 days of the week
Q: What is the glycemic index and how does it factor into maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
A: The glycemic index (GI) is a research tool based on a scale of 0 to 100 that is used to examine how individual carbohydrate foods affect blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI score are digested and absorbed by the body more quickly, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar. Foods with a low GI score are converted into sugar more slowly and do not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar. When eating for weight loss, it’s wise to choose foods that are low on the glycemic index so that they will provide lasting energy and limit cravings between meals.