Men, it’s time to improve your nutrition
June has been celebrated as Men’s Health Month since 1994. In honor of this, I’d like to address ways men, and the people who love them, can improve their nutritional health.
Men and women vary in how they approach getting themselves motivated to seek out healthier behaviors. While messages about health risks and preventive behaviors are good, it seems that women are more likely to respond to these. Men, on the other hand, respond to messages that are aimed at helping them improve their performance. Mentally and physically, men are more concerned about how living a healthier lifestyle can improve performance in these two parts of their lives. Ironically, eating a healthy diet can improve both of these; the message just has to be tailored to click with the male brain.
From a lifestyle perspective heart disease and prostate cancer prevention, both major causes of death in men, are the same. Men who choose to eat more whole grains and less saturated fat put themselves in the lower risk category of having either of these problems. Both of these disease states affect men’s performance and yet men are more likely to respond to the second threat than the first. Yet, if the message gets across for either reason, it’s a win-win situation for all.
Fiber is another area that can improve men’s performance and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Reading food labels and looking for foods with more fiber is always recommended. Choosing more vegetables, fruit and legumes is a good place to start.
Advertising doesn’t usually help much. While most people have a general idea of which foods they eat will have the best long-term benefits, many commercials and other marketing tend to steer all of us toward choosing foods simply for taste and initial satisfaction over health. While I don’t recommend eliminating these foods entirely, I do encourage moderation when possible. Don’t be afraid to request smaller portions or split something fun with a loved one instead of choosing to get the largest size available. Instead of moaning in pain after a huge meal, you’ll have plenty of energy, both physical and mental, for other activities.
Finally, planning your day around being more active can go a long way to improving your performance. Look for little ways to get in extra steps or start planning that Sunday afternoon football game. Mentally and physically, your body will thank you.
Mary Koch is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetic Educator at Banner Churchill Community Hospital and the VA Lahontan Valley Outpatient Clinic. Send your nutrition questions to Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.