March is National Nutrition Month: Go farther with food! |

March is National Nutrition Month: Go farther with food!

Debbie Coblentz

High-quality food helps us go farther as we have increased daily vitality and better long-term health.

Some think there is just not enough evidence today about what is an optimal, "high-quality" eating pattern. Listening to the argument makes us want to throw our hands up in exasperation and say, "I'll eat whatever I want!"

It turns out there is an emerging consensus among good nutrition science (scientists and physicians who do research in nutrition) about what constitutes an optimal way of eating. Even over the loud minority, we can listen to this growing voice of good science and use it as a guide.

In a nutshell, a food pattern with which we can go farther includes few refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, white rice), lots of healthful carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products in their natural, unrefined forms), few harmful fats (saturated, trans, hydrogenated), sufficient healthful fats (specifically omega-3 fatty acids) and if animal-based proteins are included, use of them is in moderation.

The fiber in this eating pattern fills you up. In daily life, this means going farther because you stay full and focused longer after each meal. Getting full before eating too many calories is also an easy built-in weight management system. In addition, cravings are curbed and moods are evened out with the slower absorption rate of each meal. All combined, this is a daily energy boost that helps us accomplish more.

There are many ways high-quality eating impacts our health in the long run, as well.

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Plant-based foods are low in unhealthy fats and rich in phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, and other really long words that can equate into more money in your pocket and more time on your hands because your health care costs and tasks are lower over the course of your life.

An article in the Business Journal April 1, 2014, stated that healthcare was currently costing America $2.8 trillion a year, with those costs increasing an estimated 3.7 percent per year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Chronic diseases are the most common and costly of all health problems, but they are also the most preventable." This means that addressing the cause of preventable chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and some types of cancer would translate into a huge savings in our favor. It is estimated that preventable chronic disease is responsible for more than 75 percent of all health care costs.

We've heard it before: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The degree to which you consistently move toward a high-quality eating pattern will go a long way in determining the degree to which you can go farther, physically as well as financially, after each meal and during the course of your life.

Debbie Coblentz is a registered dietician. Comments are welcome at