Tahlequah Daily Press

January 3, 2014

Going lean in 2014

The first in a two-part series on diet and fitness regimens reveals tips and hints for healthier eating.

By RENEE FITE
Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Diet is a four-letter word.

Too often, a diet almost always guarantees failure, but only after a period of denying yourself treats and favorite foods.

Today, many achieve dietary success through a lifestyle change. Changes may include smaller food portions, reading food package labels, choosing more fruits and vegetables and employing some form of fitness routine.

Lois Fladie, dietitian for Tahlequah City Hospital for more than two decades, said cutting sugar from the diet is key.

“[Get rid of the] pies, cookies and candies and replace them with a nice, big salad,” said Fladie.

Fladie believes salads can be interesting, colorful meals, not a bland bowl of lettuce.

“Add flavor: fresh peppers, green onions, garbanzo beans, dried cranberries, walnuts, pears, strawberries,” Fladie said. “If you eat more of that, you’re satisfied, healthier, feel good and you want to get up and do something.”

Sugar makes you tired, she said.

“It brings that high, then you feel low because you’re not actually feeding your body,” said Fladie.

“Think of sweets as a reward. One cookie a day or a week, whatever you can handle and not overdo is all right. Savor it, eat it slowly.”

A tip TCH Chef Chuck Ray learned for savoring a meal and not over-eating was to lay down the fork or spoon in between each bite.

He also recommends cooking meals with health in mind.

“Make your own food the way we do here, at home,” Ray said.

“Stay away from anything anyone else has touched. Use meat that has not been injected. Chemicals are not really good for you and many seasonings have salt added.”

A rice cooker is one of his favorite kitchen appliances.

“After you brown your meat - I prefer venison - throw spices, meat and veggies into a rice cooker, it cooks until it’s finished then holds warm and doesn’t dry out,” Ray said.

The hospital uses fresh herbs they grow in the summer in a garden on site. They also buy from local certified organic gardeners.”

“TCH always promotes healthy lifestyles and wants to be proactive in community health,” said Fladie.

“Plant-based nutrition emphasizes whole, plant-based foods in a meal. This way of eating is one of the best ways to achieve the healthiest human body, promote wellness and prevent or even reverse disease.”

Whole food literally means the whole food that hasn’t been stripped of their originally packaging, such as apples, brown rice, broccoli and beans.

Plant-based means the majority of calories eaten come from foods grown in, on or from the ground such as fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, she said.

“it comes from an animal, we typically eat very little of these: meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and cheese, and don’t use fats in preparing meals, but this is a whole range of eating styles and not strictly vegetarian or vegan,” she said.

The focus is on nutrient density of foods, eating foods with the highest proportion of nutrients or calories, she said.

“Plants are packed full of phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber which all have health-promoting effects,” she said.

Don’t give up your favorite foods immediately, Fladie said.

“Start by eating more of the plant-based meals you already enjoy, like a bean and rice burrito, pasta primavera or vegetable stir fry,” she said.

“Shift the balance of plant and animal foods gradually. By focusing on the ones you already enjoy, you’re making the easier changes already. Then you can tackle the more difficult ones after you get momentum going.”

WHAT’S NEXT

The final in a series about dieting and fitness examines workout options for local residents.