I recently attended the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) 2009 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo. With over 70,000 members, the ADA conference is one of the nation’s largest gatherings of nutrition professionals. The conference was full of exciting breakthroughs in nutritional science, new research ideas, and over 350 food companies and organizations. Although the free samples were enticing, I was struck by the sheer number of businesses marketing to food consumers. This one convention was busting at the seams with producers marketing boxed and bagged foods, and I thought about the mass media they produce – television and print ads, not to mention advertising overload at the grocery store. It’s no wonder the world is dealing with rampant diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity!
Food producers know you have an abundance of choices; that’s why food marketing is so powerful. So, in a world full of packaged foods, giant marketing budgets, and confusing labeling, how do you choose what to eat? Most dietitians agree, less processing is better; think fresh, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Likewise, moderation in calories and balance between food groups are key principles for health. This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever eat chips, candy, or hotdogs. Of course you will! We all do. But it means that processed foods are just a small portion of a well-balanced diet. Where can you start? Toss the boxes and bags, and start simply by adding a piece of fruit to your breakfast or as a snack. For instance, pears are snackable and easily packable. This classic fruit is fresh, uncomplicated, and a great way to make a simple change. Here’s to you and your health!