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Cover Story - Posted December 23, 2010 noon
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Take Five: Renee Bergmeier

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Problem: We don’t view food as energy.
Instead of seeing food as our source of energy, we use it to treat emotional issues, for comfort or to celebrate something. We don’t realize that it’s nutrition. We miss out on whole food groups and eat double or triple portions by eating out. We’re always in a hurry so we’ve made a bad habit of eating quick and unhealthy meals.

Five Solutions
Add a vegetable to your lunch and dinner everyday.
Most of our diets are composed of starch, fat and sugar, so even if you aren’t obese, you run the risk of nutritional deficiencies. The best thing you can do is start adding a vegetable to your lunch and then again at your evening meal.

Read nutrition labels and understand serving sizes.
Sometimes we take in more calories in a meal than we should take in a whole day, especially when dining out. Not all packaged foods are single serving, so you need to read the labels and understand how much fat, sugar, carbohydrates and protein you’re eating and how that corresponds with your daily requirements. Of course, also look at total calories.

Moms and Dads, bring your kids into the kitchen when you cook.
When we’re in a hurry, we don’t make time to go home and cook a healthy meal. Those habits get passed down to our children. Let them be a part of dinner so they understand we don’t always have to eat out. Let them pick the vegetable and then they can take on good habits for their lives.

Modify behaviors rather than change whole habits.
Small changes can make a big impact. If you eat a lot of beef, consider substituting a few meals with ground turkey. Instead of half a cup of apple juice, eat a medium apple. I don’t ever tell patients they can’t have a food because it’s not about having a Peanut M&M. It’s about how many Peanut M&Ms you’re having. Also consider recipe modification to help lower fat grams and total calories.

Steer clear of fad diets.
There are a lot of people I see who think a gluten-free diet will help them with weight loss, but unless you have Celiac Disease, it’s not a good idea for you. For general, healthy weight loss, you have to look at total calories and encompass all your food groups. Commit to dining out no more than three times per week, physical activity, and the goals you make for yourself.

Registered and licensed dietitian Renee Bergmeier received her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of Nebraska at Karney and then her degree in dietetics at Lincoln. She has been at Northwest Texas Hospital for the past three years.

Back: Dr. Cindy Hutson, family physician
Next: Barry Copeland, Uglypress

by Jennie Treadway-Miller

Jennie was a columnist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press for eight years prior to moving to Amarillo in 2008. She is an avid reader, runner and writer.
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