Reap the Benefits of Smaller Meals

By JUDY E. BUSS, Feeling Fit Correspondent

Who doesn’t love to eat? Of course, most of us do. However, depending on the choices we make, food can be harmful or health-boosting. Even in our fast-paced age of electronic push-buttons and instant results, certain aspects of life cannot be condensed into a pill or a click of a mouse.

Preparing nutritious meals is a necessary part of living if we expect to enjoy good health. And come to think about it, what is more fun — cooking up a scrumptious pot of soup, or spending time in hospital surgery and rehab units in pain?

Much has been written in this column about the importance of eating a healthy diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and beneficial fats. This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

An important component of a healthy eating strategy is the avoidance of eating two large meals per day (lunch and dinner). Consuming two main meals daily is a prescription for overeating, with all its detrimental consequences. One of the two should consist of lighter fare. The role of such a meal cannot be overstated.

Delicious, scaled-down meals can be made with a minimum of effort. A fresh raw vegetable salad should be the centerpiece of a light meal. It can be served with whole-grain roasted bread or pita and a hearty homemade soup; or a salad paired with a whole-grain pilaf; or a fabulously delicious sandwich of multi-grain bread, stacked with a slice of sweet onion, lettuce, cranberry sauce and turkey or quality cheese (not the imitation-plastic-cheese-slices variety). A whole-grain pasta salad accompanied with a veggie salad or soup is another option.

These and countless other tempting dishes can be altered on different days to prevent monotony and increase nutritional intake: You can add or change herbs, sauces, toppings, dressings, vegetable combinations, and so forth. Most of these dishes can also be taken to work. Advance cooking of larger batches of whole-grains, beans, soups and pasta, or washing additional salad veggies for later use, saves time.

Light meals are particularly important during holidays and other times of celebration. Going hungry to a party spells trouble. Instead, eat a light and healthful meal before you go. This will help prevent stuffing yourself at the festivity and sledge-hammering your effort to live healthier. Remember, unhealthy eating and overeating are optional.

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