Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

Healthy foods build healthy minds and bodies.
These days, it is not always easy to find and eat healthy foods. Common foods can include a lot of added sugar, salt, fat, colorings, flavorings, fillers, preservatives and other chemicals.

Many stores do not carry vitamin-rich fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead, they have calorie- and carbohydrate-rich foods – so-called "junk food." This problem is at its worst in places that are called "food deserts." Food deserts are urban neighborhoods and rural towns that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grain low-fat milk and other foods that make up a healthy diet. The areas in green in the map below are the food deserts in Greater Cincinnati.

When healthy food is available, some of us cannot afford it, do not know how to cook it, or cannot seem to make it taste good.

And even when everything else is right, fast food is everywhere and so tempting. But when food is cooked for us in restaurants and cafeterias, too often we lose control of our healthy food choices.

A healthy diet can help prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, frail bones and several types of cancer.

What should I be eating?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion uses the MyPlate graphic at right to teach people about healthy eating. It recommends that people make half their plate fruits and vegetables, make half their grains whole grains and drink low-fat and fat-free dairy. To learn more visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

How can I eat better?

Several websites can help you plan and prepare healthy meals.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Million Hearts® initiative aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Its website offers heart-healthy recipes and meal plans. http://recipes.millionhearts.hhs.gov

At the USDA's What's Cooking website, users can search for easy-to-make healthy recipes. www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov

Another Department of Health and Human Services website, A Healthier You, offers recipes based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Users can search by preparation time: less than 30 minutes, less than 60 minutes and less than 90 minutes. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/healthieryou/html/recipes.html

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute lists heart-healthy recipes that include information about serving size, number of servings, calories and other nutrients on its Aim for a Healthy Weight website. www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/eat/recipes.htm

Interact for Health's Healthy Eating efforts are directed in two areas:

COOK FOR AMERICA®

Many children eat two or three meals at school. School could be where these children learn to eat well. However in recent years, highly processed food replaced the home-style cooking that school cafeterias used to serve.

Interact for Health has worked in recent years to improve students' access to healthy, affordable food by funding participation in Cook for America®. The three-phase program is helping schools serving more than 20,000 area kids to assess their current food program, develop plans and train staff to serve healthier meals within their current food system and budget. The schools are relearning how to obtain and cook healthy food from scratch. They have improved the quality and taste of the food that is served.

For more information about this program contact Program Officer Jaime Love at 513-458-6615 or jlove@interactforhealth.org.


FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFRASTRUCTURE

No amount of urging can make someone eat healthier foods if there is nowhere to get them. One of our first efforts is to provide some grants that improve the availability of fresh produce, especially in food deserts. In this effort, we seek projects that improve the growing, transport, quality, cost and availability of fresh food. Our work has supported several projects across the region, from co-op grocery stores, to low-cost access to produce to farmer training programs. These infrastructure and distribution projects are helping get fresh produce to communities that need better access.

For more information about this program contact Program Officer Jaime Love at 513-458-6615 or jlove@interactforhealth.org.


OTHER

We have also funded a regional Food Policy Council. Its nearly 40 members come from a variety of backgrounds, including farms, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. They look at food policy and identify changes in systems that can improve access to healthy food, particularly for those who live in rural areas and food deserts. To learn more, read our Health in Action story about the council here, or visit its website here.

To learn more about our Healthy Living work, click here. To see a list of grantees, click here.

Health Watch

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