Obesity is a huge problem in our country (pardon the pun). More than 1/3 of adult Americans are obese. In Oklahoma where I live it has been estimated that 30-35% of the population is obese. Only Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia have higher rates of obesity (>35%). Obesity is directly linked to many preventable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
It is understandable why many of us Oklahomans are obese when you look at the typical eating patterns we have been raised on. We love our fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, fried okra, cornbread, sweet tea, etc. Have you ever ordered a chicken fried steak in any other state? No other state compares to the chicken fry that is readily available in the Sooner state. Have you ever visited a Chinese food buffet in Oklahoma? These buffets overflow with garlic fried chicken, fried pork, fried shrimp, fried rice, and copious amounts of gravies and sweet sauces. These Chinese restaurant owners know what their Okie customers want or like and adapt the menu accordingly. Yet when these Asian restaurant owners feed their own families the food typically does not resemble the buffet line. They eat fresh vegetables, fruits, steamed rice and lean meats. Is it any wonder the obesity rate among Americans of Asian descent is around 10% (Obesity rates for the rest of the ethnic groups in America range from 33%-48%).
Every 5 years since 1980 the US government has published dietary guidelines to educate the American public about healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Recently the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines was published. The goal of the guideline is for individuals throughout all stages of the lifespan to have eating patterns that promote overall health and help prevent chronic disease (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer).
So what exactly is a healthy eating pattern? A healthy eating pattern consists of all foods and drinks that a person consumes over time. Eating patterns are adaptable to a person’s taste preferences, culture, traditions, and budget. A healthy eating pattern should include a variety of nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats and other protein foods, and oils; and should limit saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
The path to improving health through nutrition is to follow a healthy eating pattern that is right for you. A healthy eating pattern can be maintained over a person’s lifetime and, at appropriate calorie levels, promotes health and supports a healthy body weight. You can include many of the foods that you enjoy in a healthy eating pattern.
The guideline recognizes more than 1 healthy eating pattern and gives 3 different examples and advice on amounts of food required for individuals.
Healthy US-Style Eating Pattern
Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern
Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern
Calorie recommendations based on age, sex, and activity level.
Start with small changes in your eating pattern to avoid becoming overwhelmed. For example, you could simply start by replacing refined- flour bread with whole-grain bread, include more veggies in the food you are used to eating, and perhaps reduce the amount of salt you use. Click here to get more examples of small shifts toward healthy eating.
The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn't short-term dietary changes; it's about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity.
So take some of the advice given from these sources and make it a consistent and sustainable part of your daily routine. Its alright to have an occasional chicken fried steak or visit the Chinese buffet now and then. Just don't make it a consistent part of your eating pattern.You will soon start to see and feel long term improvements in your body weight, and overall health.
Don Stover PT
husband and father
PT in private practice
TKD black belt (retired)
hapkido black belt (retired)
outdoor cooking fanatic
hot tub soaker
Thanks for visiting my blog page. My name is Don Stover. I am a seasoned physical therapist in Oklahoma City OK. with over 20 years in the biz. I have a lot of knowledge and training in orthopedic PT and spine care. I will be sharing my thoughts on physical therapy for orthopedic problems such as spinal pain, extremity joint pain, sports injuries, health/fitness, and life in general. I hope you enjoy reading!
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