On a recent airline flight, one of the attendants ended her string of instructions with this: “That does it for the do’s and don’ts. Make sure you do the do’s and don’t do the don’ts and everything will be just fine.”
Good advice, I’d say. Here are some others as well:
DO eat more protein for breakfast. A high intake of protein has been found to help reduce hunger later in the day, say experts. That could help delay those afternoon munchies, say researchers. Protein-rich breakfasts — think eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, protein powder, cheese, nuts and nut butters — also help preserve our lean body mass (aka muscle) needed to maintain strength for everyday tasks. How much? Most experts say between 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal is a good goal for most of us.
DON’T waste food. We Americans throw out almost 150,000 tons of food a day, say those who measure such things. And much of what we waste is fruit and vegetables. When we toss good food, we waste the land, water and fertilizers it took to produce it. Solution: Only buy what you will eat and eat it before it goes bad.
DO eat an early dinner. A longer interval between our last meal of the day and when we go to sleep may help us sleep better and prevent heartburn. Earlier evening meals also allows the body to burn off energy instead of storing any excess calories in fat deposits. A recent study also found that adults who ate their final meal two or more hours before bedtime had a 20 percent reduced risk for prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women compared to those who went to sleep immediately after eating dinner.
DON’T forget to spice up your food. Besides giving our meals a kick of flavor, hot stuff like pepper, chili powder and horseradish are rich in natural chemicals that fight off disease-causing inflammation, say researchers. When we turn to pepper instead of the salt shaker, we also keep our blood pressure down and lower our risk for stroke and heart disease. Capsaicin — the main “hot” ingredient in chili peppers — may temporarily boost the rate at which our bodies burn calories. Other substances in spicy foods such as horseradish are also being studied for their potential to keep cancer cells from taking hold in the body.
DO eat meals with others. Sharing food — and not just on holidays — helps us mentally as well as physically, say experts. Studies have shown that older people who eat “in community” instead of alone are less likely to become depressed. And studies around the world find a strong link between sharing meals and longer, more healthful lives.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.