Let’s face it — clean eating is no piece of cake. Quite literally, it’s the opposite of a piece of cake, much as our taste buds might like to disagree. Yet, as we’ve heard time and time again, healthy eating is essential for both mental and physical wellbeing.
Luckily, living in the Hudson Valley makes it just a little easier to eat well all year. From the abundance of CSAs and U-pick farms to the ever-growing assortment of vegan and vegetarian eateries in town, the region is a dream destination for people who want food that doesn’t skimp on flavor or nutrition.
Yet even with the clean eating resources at our fingertips, it’s still all too easy to give into comfort food and desserts. To avoid temptations, Chelsea Hollander, DO of CareMount Medical Group in Cortlandt Manor shares her top tips to maintain a healthy diet throughout the year.
“Plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds provide vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds that have cancer-protective effects,” Hollander explains. “They also provide fiber, which protects against colorectal cancer. Eating mostly plant foods to meet your nutrient needs can satisfy your hunger while making it easier to stay at a healthy weight.”
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“Foods with high amounts of added sugar trigger the liver to dump high amounts of fats into the bloodstream. Moreover, a high sugar diet can lead to insulin resistance in the tissues, disrupting the endocrine system,” Hollander warns. She cautions against highly processed, sugary foods like instant soups, frozen pizza, baked desserts, convenience snacks, and sugar-filled drinks, which can lead to an assortment of health problems and increased rates of cancer down the line.
While small amounts of red meat are OK in a healthy diet, Hollander recommends eating no more than 500 grams, or 18 ounces, per week. “Meat is a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B12, and zinc,” she says.
Processed meats, on the other hand, are a different beast altogether. “Processed meats, such as ham, bacon, sausage, salami, hot dogs, pepperoni, and many deli meats increase the risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. If you choose to eat these meats, eat them in small amounts and less often,” she advises.
When it comes to alcohol consumption, Hollander is all about portion control. “Too much alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure, lead to heart failure, dementia, and increase the risk of colorectal, breast, liver, mouth, larynx and pharynx (throat), and esophagus cancers,” she warns. To avoid such potentially deadly consequences, she advises limiting alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
“The importance of physical activity in maintaining and improving health cannot be overstated,” Hollander stresses. In addition to decreasing risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, stroke, and certain cancers, “regular, robust physical activity has advantageous effects on mood, and has been proven to beneficially affect depression, anxiety, and insomnia,” she explains.
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