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Staying Within Bounds

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Boundaries are necessary for many things in life.  For example, in games and sports like basketball, tennis, volleyball, football, and bowling.  Sometimes boundaries are referred to as limits.  For example, in discussions about raising children, laws and speeding violations, and spending plans, otherwise known as budgets.

Like money, calories can be budgeted. "How Should You Spend Your Calorie Salary?" delves into that concept. Written by Alice Henneman, registered dietician and extension educator with University of Nebraska Lincoln, the publication acknowledges that the process begins with knowing what our daily calorie budget is. Our daily calorie needs are based on our age, gender, height, weight, and physical activity level. Even more helpful is monitoring what happens to our weight over time by adjusting our calorie intake and our level of physical activity.

David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, proposed the power of saving a few dollars daily by forgoing unnecessary purchases, such as for a daily latte. He demonstrated how that one simple thing, done again and again over several years, can save us thousands of dollars! The same can apply to calories — by saving a few calories daily, we can save thousands of calories in a very short time! It helps to keep in mind that just 100 extra calories per day can add up to a ten pound weight gain in one year. It also helps to be aware that saving or avoiding those 100 extra calories can be as simple as skipping two tablespoons of sugar, jelly, jam, or syrup, or  one tablespoon of butter or margarine, or one-third of a four-inch diameter doughnut, or two-thirds of a can of a regular soft drink.

As important as the number of calories is the quality of the calories. The key to getting the nutrients necessary for good health, while staying within our "calorie salary," is to choose nutrient-rich foods and beverages. "Empty" calorie foods and beverages will quickly break any calorie budget. Nutrient-rich foods and beverages are those that provide vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial substances, such as fiber, for a relatively low calorie cost. They are foods that are low in or free of solid fats or added sugars, refined starches, and sodium.

All vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, fat-free and low-fat dairy, and lean meats and poultry are nutrient -rich when prepared without solid fats or sugars.

Reducing or eliminating some less nutrient-rich foods and beverages not only saves calories. It also saves money in terms of reducing expenses for nutrition-related health problems and medications.

Give me a call if you or your friends, family, co-workers or employees would like to learn more about this topic. NDSU Extension has a lot to offer, and I am here to serve you!

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