Food Choices for Fitness

Your life is filled with choices! Every day you make thousands of choices, many related to food. Some seem trivial. Others are important. A few may even set the course of your life. But as insignificant as a single choice may seem, made over and over, it can have a major impact on your health—and your life! This book is about choices—those you, your family, and your friends make every day about food, nutrition, and health. Within its pages, you’ll find reliable nutrition information and sound advice, based on scientific evidence. It offers you practical ways to eat healthfully in almost any situation and at every phase of life. And it encourages you to enjoy the pleasures of food. After all, taste is the number one reason most people choose one food over another. Most important, the practical tips and flexible guidelines on its pages help you choose nutritious, flavorful foods to match your own needs, preferences, and lifestyle—even as your life and family situation change. Eating for health is one of the wisest decisions you’ll ever make!

Fitness: Your Overall Health!

What does being fit mean to you? Perhaps, being free of disease and other health problems? Or having plenty of energy, or a trim or muscular body, or the ability to finish a 10K run? Actually, “fitness” is far broader and more personal. It refers to your own optimal health and overall well-being. Fitness is your good health—at its very best.

Being fit defines every aspect of your health—not only your physical health, but your emotional and mental well-being, too. In fact, they’re interconnected. Smart eating and active living are fundamental to all three. When you’re fit, you have:

# Energy to do what’s important to you and to be more productive

# Stamina and a positive outlook to handle the mental challenges and emotional ups and downs of everyday life, and to deal with stress

# Reduced risk for many health problems, including serious, often life-changing diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis

# The chance to look and feel your best

# Physical strength and endurance to protect yourself in case of an emergency

# A better chance for a higher quality of life, and perhaps a longer one, too


Fit Is Ageless

Fitness at every age and stage in life depends on healthful eating and active living. The sooner you make them your priorities, the better your health.

That, too, is what this book is all about—how to eat for health and stay physically active throughout the cycle of life, and enjoy great-tasting food along the way!

Good nutrition and regular physical activity are two lifestyle habits that promote fitness—but certainly not the only ones. To stay fit, make other lifestyle choices for good health, too: get adequate sleep, avoid smoking, manage stress, drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation (if you drink), wear your seat belt, observe good hygiene, get regular medical checkups, obtain adequate health care—to name a few.

Smart Eating: Fuel for Fitness

What does it take to be fit? You don’t need special or costly foods, or fancy exercise equipment or health club membership. You don’t need to give up your favorite foods, or set up a tedious system of eating rules or calorie counting. And you don’t need to hit a specific weight on the bathroom scale.

You’ve heard the term “nutrition” all your life. The food-fitness connection is what it’s all about. In a nutshell, nutrition is how food nourishes your body. And being well nourished depends on getting enough of the nutrients your body needs—but not too much.

At every stage in life, healthful eating fuels fitness. Well-nourished infants, children, and teens grow, develop, and learn better. Good nutrition helps ensure a healthy pregnancy and successful breast-feeding. And healthful eating and active living help people at any age feel their best, work productively, and lower their risks for some diseases.

Today’s understanding of nutrition is based on years of scientific study. Interest in food and health actually has a long history and was even recorded by the ancient Greeks. But it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the mysteries of nutrition began to be solved. Since then, scientists have been able to answer many nutrition questions. And research continues as scientists explore emerging questions about food, nutrients, phytonutrients, and their role in health.

Today we know that healthful eating dramatically lowers the risk for the main causes of disability and death in the United States: heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis. Good nutrition and regular physical activity also can lower risks for obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol—all risk factors for serious disease.

Nutrition advice, with the consensus of today’s nutrition experts, is supported by solid scientific evidence. So unlike the ancients, you have a valid basis for choosing food for health. It’s up to you to apply nutrition principles and advice for your own well-being. To make wise food choices, you need sciencebased nutrition information. What you know—and don’t know—just may surprise you!