You’ve heard the saying “You are what you eat.”
At a workshop sponsored by the Office of Human Resource Services and the Institute for a Healthiest Maryland (IHM), Greer Huffman and Kate McManus provided tips on how to stay healthy and support local agriculture.
“By making healthy choices, you’re reducing your likelihood of suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis,” said Huffman, community outreach coordinator for IHM.
How do you maintain a healthy diet? Huffman provided some healthy how-to tips:
- Read food labels for calories, serving size, saturated and trans fats, and sodium.
- Monitor caloric intake.
- Cook at home because “you can control what you’re putting into your body and into your meals,” Huffman said.
- Reduce foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt.
- Build a healthy plate.
What constitutes a healthy plate? Huffman provided a handout from choosemyplate.gov, sponsored by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. With vegetables making up most of the meal, it’s also recommended you account for fruits, grains, protein, and dairy.
“The choosemyplate graphic is a really useful tool as it provides a visual of what a nutritious plate should look like,” Huffman said.
Besides beef and chicken, attendees also mentioned other items you can use to meet your protein requirements such as beans, oatmeal, nuts, quinoa, kale, and spinach.
McManus, director of facilities and food service, said she’s allergic to dairy and acquires calcium from other sources such as supplements, goat and sheep’s milk, and the sun.
“If you have restrictions or concerns, it’s best to speak to your doctor or a nutritionist and figure out what’s best for you,” McManus said.
The USDA also sponsors a free SuperTracker tool, which calculates calories based on your height, weight, and physical activity levels.
One way you can start building a healthy plate is by changing your shopping habits such as purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share with a local farmer to receive fresh produce for half of the year.
The University hosts a CSA program with One Straw Farm.
“You buy a share for 26 weeks worth of produce, and the farm uses that money to buy seeds, fix machines, and hire labor. You’re supporting the local farmer,” McManus said.
One Straw Farm also offers organic produce (no pesticides). Program participants pick up their shares once a week. McManus recommends splitting a share, which is eight items per week.
“If you’re getting things locally, either with a CSA or at the farmers market, you know where your food is coming from,” McManus said.
For information on joining One Straw Farm’s CSA, contact McManus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You also can visit the University Farmers Market in Park Plaza (across from the medical center entrance) every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through November. SNAP and EBT benefits are offered.
“We want to further the University community,” Huffman said, “and this is one way to do it — through healthy eating.”
For additional resources, Huffman and McManus recommend the following:
- We Can! Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition
- Maryland Department of Agriculture
— Tracy Gnadinger
Plate graphic courtesy of choosemyplate.gov. Nutrition facts graphic courtesy of FDA.