BATTLE CREEK, Michigan –
Making healthier choices is a common resolution to start a new year, and the Battle Creek Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program offered help Jan. 26 with a virtual class to encourage wiser choices in our diets.
“Healthy Snacking” was presented as part of MWR’s Lunch & Learn Series and as part of the Body Transformation 2021 program. Community Nutrition Instructor Allisen Rogers from the Michigan State University Extension led the interactive exchange helping participants understand nutritional basics. Rogers began by saying that snacking has a bad reputation with many people, but snacks do not have to be seen that way.
“Food is fuel and we do have to eat,” Rogers said.
Participants were reminded to see snacks as smaller amounts of food to get people through to the next meal and not as meals themselves.
Rogers said the Agriculture Department’s “My Plate” website offers tools to help Americans eat better. She noted how the plate replaced the food pyramid and looks more like what we people on the table.
“We need to eat from at least three of the groups for a meal and have two in snacks,” Rogers said. “It increases the nutrients we consume to have more groups.”
Rogers said half of what people eat should be fruits and grains. She explained that grains are high in fiber, which fills a person up faster and stays longer, help with digestion and can lower cholesterol. Knowing the difference between serving sizes and portion sizes is also important.
“The serving size is what’s described on labels while portions are what we actually eat,” Rogers said.
Controlling portions with smaller sizes is a way Rogers said people can reduce sugars and saturated fats. She also encouraged preparing snacks in advance for more control as well as a way to save time and money while also avoiding preservatives.
“We don’t have to stop at a store or vending machine,” Rogers said. “Making things like trail mix in bulk also saves money.”
Food safety was also stressed as participants were reminded to keep cold foods refrigerated until needed. Rogers said foods meant to be kept cold should not be left out of fridge more than two hours to keep them safe to consume.
Rogers also stressed the need for physical activity to complement healthy eating.
“We take in food for energy, and it’s used for physical activity,” Rogers said.
Battle Creek MWR Fitness Center Manager Martha Kerns said the class is one of the ways the MWR staff offers small steps that can help patrons transition to healthier lifestyles and stressed that nutrition plays a key role in better health.
“We want to focus on things that anyone can implement to make a transition to a healthier lifestyle,” shared Kerns. “It’s better to have progress versus perfection. Ultimately, small steps equal big changes.”
The Battle Creek MWR Fitness Center is building an online library of resources for its patrons to support their patrons. The Body Transformation program will add to that collection to expand resources based on targeting specific muscle groups and stretching exercises and more.
More information fitness and other programs is available on the Battle Creek MWR website.