Healthy Eating/Recipes

Role of Drill Sergeants in Nutrition Behaviors

The headline in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ended with “of soldiers in basic combat training”.

But, I’m guessing a majority of my readers are saying “YES” give me a drill sergeant who tells me what to eat and I’ll be happy and healthy.

I agree. We all like someone telling us what to do. Until we don’t. We like rules and structure. Until the unexpected happens. Which is pretty much all the time.

Weight reduction diets routinely tell you what to eat, how much to eat, perhaps even what time to eat. But does the latest and greatest diet tell us what to do when there’s a pitch-in at work celebrating a new baby? Enjoying cake at your child’s birthday? Meeting your college roommate for cocktails and dinner after work when it’s past your allotted eat and drink time?

The other end of the spectrum is too many food choices. We’ve used the term “decision fatigue”.  We can only “resist” food temptations so long.

Let’s look for some middle ground. Create your own structure. Be your own drill sergeant.

Including 3 of the 5 food groups/meal lends itself to healthy eating. Recall the groups: fruits, veggies, grain, protein and dairy. Our body wants its protein distributed throughout the day. So a food from the protein or dairy group takes up one spot. Fruits and veggies are in short supply in practically everyone’s diet; so, select from one of those groups each meal. Whole grains add satisfying, filling fiber for the third spot.

Kind of like a one from column A, one from column B….right?

Breakfast might be: milk, a banana and oatmeal OR an egg, some berries and toast.

Lunch might be: vegetable soup with black beans and whole grain crackers.

Dinner might be: fish, big colorful salad and brown rice.

I totally understand that we’ll want to add some extras (brown sugar to that oatmeal and butter to the toast) but if you start with that basic structure of three, the decisions are decreased and you’ll begin to be satisfied with fewer “extras”.

Then, when life happens you’ll be able to enjoy the celebration without guilt and without the drill sergeant. You’ve got your own personalized diet to be well,


PS Celebrating with your post-21 year old probably means you’ll enjoy some wine instead of cake. Happy Birthday, G-man.


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Dirty air, healthy body?

A Purdue Alumnus magazine featured an article: Something in the air – babies stir up clouds of bio-gunk when they crawl. They had me at bio-gunk!

To test a theory, engineers (civil, environmental and ecological) created a baby robot and had it crawl on carpet and “breathe” in whatever.

The biologic materials inhaled by “baby” were significant in mass and diversity which it was theorized would PREVENT allergy and asthma in later years. That gives real life baby time to develop his immune system. So, they learned exposure to bio-gunk IS healthy.

That translates into our food world in two ways. Introduction of new foods, tastes and textures helps the baby’s (or our) tastebuds learn about new foods. And from the “biological materials” we ingest, particularly with fresh fruits and vegetables, we are simultaneously offering diverse bacteria to the gut.

Healthy gut bacteria, the microbiome, is influenced by a healthy diet and that influences health.

We’ve talked about microbiota, gut flora or whatever you want to call it before. Cultured foods and fresh produce are excellent sources of healthy bacteria. We probably understand about 2 percent of what there is to know about gut health and the microbiome and health claims (and supplements are way out over our skis) but we can all agree at this time, it’s important!

To have a healthy gut, eat well.


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