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BEYOND TRIM: Recycle your diet

Reduce, remove, replace foods

Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center
Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center

I’m working to reduce my carbon footprint. If you know what I’m talking about, you’re probably familiar with the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle.” This simple mnemonic helps us to remember ways that we can eliminate waste that goes into landfills, thereby protecting our environment.

I still have a lot to learn about waste management, but I know a bit more about “waist” management. It occurred to me that I could develop a similar, easy to remember mantra that would describe ways to improve your diet.

I have come up with “reduce, remove, replace.” Here is how you can apply it:

Reduce

There are foods or food ingredients that can have a negative impact on our health if consumed in excess.

Take salt for example. Most adults in the United States should be consuming no more than 1500 milligrams of sodium per day, yet average salt consumption is about 3400 mg.

Excess sodium consumption is one of the culprits responsible for high blood pressure and contributes to your risk for stomach cancer. One way that you can improve your diet is by reducing your consumption of sodium.

Read food labels and look for the lowest sodium options. Cook for yourself and eat more meals at home, as restaurant meals are notoriously high in sodium.

Speaking of reducing, most of us carry too much body fat around our middle. Refined sugars and oils add nothing but excess calories to your diet.

By reducing your consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, desserts, fried foods, and fatty snacks, you can improve not just your weight, but your health overall.

Remove

I’ve heard people say that there is no such thing as “bad” food, but I beg to differ. At the top of my list of bad foods are those that contain trans fats – things like crackers, cake mixes, frosting, frozen desserts, and powdered and liquid coffee creamers, to name a few.

Trans fats have been shown to increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol.

Studies have suggested that there is no safe intake level of trans fat, so I would suggest that you avoid it.

Read food labels and look for the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredient list to find those foods that contain trans fats.

Replace

We’ve all got to eat. If we reduce or remove certain foods from our diet and replace them with lower calorie, more nutritious foods, our weight and health should benefit.

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