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Knowledge key to healthier eating

By Lorie Hidalgo | Pulse staff reporter

Healthy eatingHealthy eating habits are all about making the right choices. Being educated on the topic is the key to making changes.

Often times, those who want to change don’t know where to begin. Changing your eating habits should begin with keeping a food journal, having a better understanding of portion size, and using tools that can help the process.

According to Dr. Eleanor B. Skelley, a Biology professor at Palo Alto College, a big issue with our eating habits is our lack of knowledge. We don’t know what an accurate portion size is. By not having a grasp of what a portion is, we have the possibility of over-eating.

“Become aware of portion size. A lot of people don’t really know what a serving is. Become aware of the size of the serving of the food,” said Skelley.

According to Linda Ibarra-Gonzales, an instructor of Consumer Nutrition and Allied Health at Palo Alto, there is no need to give up every kind of sugary sweet or even fried foods. If we are conscious of the amount of bad foods we take into our diet, then we can slowly begin to change in moderation.

“I love fried food. I love sweets,”said Ibarra-Gonzales. “I love all that stuff, and I’m not an advocate of eliminating all that from the diet. I want to enjoy life and be happy when I eat food. I don’t want to be unhappy because it tastes like cardboard.”

Ibarra-Gonzales also recommended keeping a food journal to better help one understand where you need to make changes in your diet.

“Write down what it is you consume on an average basis. It’s hard to change if you don’t know what you eat..,” said Ibarra-Gonzales.

Many times college students turn to the wrong foods simply because it is fast and convenient. With busy and hectic work, school and personal schedules, ordering food via drive-thru is always much easier than taking the time to search for a healthier spot.

Monica Valero, a Mechanical Engineering major, is aware that eating habits are important but believes that as college life piles on its weight, eating habits become more difficult to manage.

“It shouldn’t be so hard,” said Valero.  “But unfortunately it is because we spend more time thinking about school, grades, etc…and our own eating habits are forgotten.”

As a technology-driven society, we can use apps to help track our food intake. One app is called Fooducate, and it can help you track the number of calories you take in.  The app also has a bar code scanner that can be used at the grocery store or even at restaurants. This app also lists some of the most popular foods today both in the grocery store and at restaurants.  The foods are categorized based on an ABC method that not only rates the taste but, also the health benefit of the product.

Another app that is great to use is Lose It! This app allows you to count calories, set a weight goal and track your progress to reaching this goal. Not only can this app be your personal trainer, this app also allows you to link up with friends who use the app to help motivate each other’s progress.

These apps also have very well organized websites that list recipes and tips on how to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Not only do these apps help make your transition into the healthy lifestyle easier, they are also free for both iPhones and Android phones.

One way to kick off your transition into healthier eating is minimizing your intake of sugary drinks. By making this small change in your diet, you can quickly shed a few pounds and begin taking baby steps to reaching your goal.

Also, think about replacing your favorite flour tortillas with healthier corn tortillas or even whole-wheat tortillas that are sold at many grocery stores. Corn tortillas have half the calories and fat of flour tortillas.

“When it comes to nutrition, ultimately it is about personal choice,” said Ibarra-Gonzales. “People have to want to know that they need to do it.”

Whether you are making a change in your eating habits to lose a few pounds or to avoid getting diabetes, taking the time to change your eating habits is a step in the right direction.