“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”
(The second article in our series)
Did you know that over 60% of adult American men are overweight or obese? Nutrition and dieting are often overlooked aspects of health and wellness, especially by men, which is why it is important to consider them today as we continue our celebration of Men’s Health Month.
Nutrition needs differ with gender and age. A healthy diet for a man differs from a healthy diet for a woman. Likewise, a healthy diet for an older man is differs from a healthy diet for a young boy, teenager, or middle-aged man. As you design an eating pattern that suits you, it is important to know your gender-and-age-appropriate nutrition needs and to be in contact with your physician.
Regardless of age, all men need good nutrition and healthy diet, but where do we start? And from there, how do we achieve and maintain a healthy weight?
What does a healthy diet look like?
MyPlate, a tool provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a great place to begin understanding what a healthy diet could look like for you.
MyPlate divides the foods you eat into five categories, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. Let’s take a closer look at each of these five categories.
Fruits. Most men will require about two cups of fruit every day. Fruit includes all fresh, canned, cut, or frozen fruit, as well as 100% fruit juices. Eating a variety of fruits everyday may reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
Vegetables. Most men will require about two to three cups of vegetables every day. It is especially important to consume a good mix of vegetables, including dark green vegetables (such as spinach and broccoli), orange vegetables (such as carrots and pumpkins), starchy vegetables (such as corn and potatoes), and other vegetables (such as beans, peas, peppers, and mushrooms). As with fruits, eating a variety of vegetables everyday may reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
Grains. Most men will require about three ounces of grains (such as cereals, crackers, rice, and pasta) every day. Grains, especially whole grains, are rich in fiber, allowing them to reduce your risk of heart disease and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Protein. Most men will require about five to six ounces of protein every day. Sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, eggs, and nuts. Proteins should be baked, broiled, or grilled, instead of fried, to maximize the health benefits of the protein. Proteins will help you to build muscles, bones, skin, and blood in a way that can benefit your whole body. Proteins are also excellent sources of important nutrients (such as vitamins B and E, iron, zinc, and magnesium), which are used by your body to protect your skin cells, carry oxygen to your blood, and strengthen your immune system.
Dairy. Most men will require about three cups of dairy products each day. Dairy products include milk, cheese, yogurt, and more. Whenever possible, choose dairy products that are fat-free or low-fat, and avoid dairy products that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese and butter. Consuming dairy products helps to build and strengthen healthy bones, which is especially important as you age.
Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight requires less effort than you would think. Below are several ways that will help you to accomplish and keep your weight loss goals. The more you can follow, the easier it will be. This list is adapted from Armin Brott’s E-Book, Blueprint for Men’s Health:
- Follow the guidelines provided by the MyPlate tool, described above.
- Keep “extras” or “sometimes foods” not included in the MyPlate tool to a minimum. These are not a regular part of a healthy diet.
- Limit your fat intake to no more than 30% of the calories you eat every day.
- Eat slowly and pay attention to how you feel. Do not have seconds unless you’re really hungry and stop eating when you’re full.
- Eat Breakfast every day. People who eat a healthy breakfast tend to eat less during the day, have lower cholesterol, and can concentrate better at work and home.
- Limit foods and drinks containing added sugar or added salt.
- Drink less alcohol or avoid alcohol entirely.
- Get into the habit of reading the Nutrition Facts Labels on the food you purchase. Avoid high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sodium foods.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
When all is said and done, check with your doctor and make sure that your healthy nutrition and dieting plan meets your physical needs, fits with your lifestyle, and reduces your risk of disease.
Don’t forget to check back here over the next few weeks for more advice on improving men’s health.