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Massage Today
May, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 05

Good Nutrition: Keep It Simple

By Teresa M. Matthews, LMT, CPT

Is there a subject more talked about or written about than diet and nutrition? Just look at any Web site, magazine, newspaper or list of non-fiction best sellers and what do you see? Articles or books detailing the latest Hollywood weight-loss plan, dire warnings about contaminated or suspect food sources, or advice from experts on eating this and not that; could we be suffering from information overload.

First things first: No nutritional program or diet is right for everybody. Even the "new" food pyramid carries a caveat that the amounts from the food groups or activity areas need to be calculated individually for each person. This is why we might wish to consult with a registered dietician or certified nutritionist if we have specific concerns or challenges. The USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has created the Web site, which is a terrific place to begin to make sense of all of this. Food groups are simple. In order of importance: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and proteins.

Fats should equal 20-30 percent of the total daily caloric intake; proteins 30-40 percent; and carbohydrates 40-50 percent. Your body weight, divided by 2, equals the number of ounces you need to take in; more with heightened activity level. So if, for example, you weigh 200 pounds, you need to take in 100 ounces of water.

blue berries - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark A word about fats: your body needs them but you will wish to make most of your fat sources from fish, (omega 3 and omega 6) nuts and vegetable oils. Saturated fats (solid at room temperature) should be limited and trans fats avoided whenever possible.

Read the "Nutrition Facts" on the package. If you cannot identify (or pronounce) most of the ingredients, why would you consume them? If you are looking for a quick snack, fresh veggies and fruits can always be kept within reach. A handful of your favorite nuts or whole-grain crackers (maybe with a couple of small cheese chunks, for fun!) might be just the right thing between massage sessions.

Keep an eye on sodium and sugar levels in prepared foods and beverages. While sodium is essential in maintaining fluid balance, too much can have an adverse effect on overall electrolyte values. Sugars, especially refined or processed, contribute calories to your daily count with few, if any, nutrients. Remember, high fructose corn syrup is just sugar by a different name. Some often overlooked bits of info on the "Facts" panel are serving size and servings per container. The amounts listed are per serving. If there are four servings and you are consuming the whole thing, multiply those values on the panel by four to be accurate.

While there are no newly uncovered facts and probably no groundbreaking ideas here, the message is clear. Good nutrition is neither too complicated to understand nor too difficult to obtain. Today's supermarkets are exactly that: super markets. All year 'round, most anywhere in this country, you will be able to find a staggering array of whole grains, either raw or in baked goods; the freshest vegetables, fruits, dairy products and meats. In mixing them by content, color and/or source, you can guarantee yourself and your family the building blocks of essential, good nutrition. Combined with a commitment to increased physical activity, you have a recipe for health and wellness.

Teresa M. Matthews, fitness expert and world champion athlete, has 30 years experience in the fitness industry. She is the president and founder of Health, Wellness & Fitness Professionals, Inc. and is the owner of Arlington School of Massage and Personal Training in Jacksonville, Fla. She is a sports massage instructor for the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and was awarded the FSMTA 2009 Sports Massage Therapist of the Year award. Teresa travels the country teaching self care and wellness classes. Contact her by e-mail at with questions or comments.


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