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Take a Bite out of the Bulge

In the United States alone, 72.5 million adults are overweight or obese, and research indicates our environment may be at least partially to blame. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and common sense — show we're surrounded by obesity-encouraging factors like massive portion sizes, food advertising and conveniences (like drive-throughs and elevators) that discourage a healthy lifestyle. Combating these forces can be as simple as focusing on your health as a whole. Here are four places to start:

  • Become familiar with the new food plate. Divided into five categories – grains, vegetables, fruits, protein and dairy – the icon helps you figure out what should be on your dinner plate. The new food plate emphasizes smaller portions, more fruits and vegetables, and fewer sugary drinks. Pay special attention when eating out - gut-busters could be hiding in "healthy" foods. The American Heart Association offers a handy resource to help keep you on track on the go.

  • Go beyond the calorie count. Weight Watchers® adjusted its massively-popular point system to more accurately reflect the USDA's recommendations? The new system discourages high-fat, low-fiber choices. Instead it suggests an overall approach to nutrition with fiber-rich, foods like fruits and vegetables.

  • Don't sabotage your workout. Studies show that many people overestimate the number of calories they burn exercising while underestimating the number of calories they consume. The result? Weight gain. Control weight gain by taking honest stock of your calorie intake – even from the "good-for-you" foods. Then exercise at least 30 minutes a day for good health, or up to 60 minutes a day if you want to lose weight. Burning more calories than you take in is the key to losing weight. Don't buy into weight myths.

  • Eat your age. Your nutritional needs change as you age. And for many of us, our diets aren't keeping up - putting us at greater risk for obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Here are some tips on how to eat - and exercise - for your age.

Age group Recommended foods and nutrients to increase Recommended physical activity
Children and adolescents
(6 to 17 years)
  • 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products for children.
  • Dietary fiber — beans and peas, other vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other foods with naturally occurring fiber — to increase nutrient density, promote healthly lipid profiles and glucose tolerance, and ensure normal gastrointestinal function.
60 minutes or more of physical activity daily
  • Aerobic
  • Muscle-strengthening
  • Bone-strengthening
(18 to 65 years)
  • Calcium rich foods — fat-free milk — for adults 51 years and older.
  • Whole fruits — adults ages 19 to 30 years consume more than half of their fruit intake as juice.
  • Dietary potassium — vegetables, fruits, and milk products — can lower blood pressure.
150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of physical activity a week
  • Aerobic
  • Muscle-strengthening
Older adults
(65 years and older)
  • Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, or dietary supplements.
  • 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood to help prevent heart disease.
Determine based on your conditions.
  • Maintain or improve balance
  • Focus on exercising safely

Don't endure the painful and expensive physical side effects that come with an unhealthy lifestyle. By focusing on a few key lifestyle changes, you can improve your overall health.

Did you know?

If you eat 100 more food calories a day than you burn, you'll gain about one pound a month. That's about 12 pounds a year!

GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention welcomes the opportunity to share this general information. However, this article is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.