Nicole Garnsey, a local nutritionist, talks to Soldiers and Family Members during a nutrition seminar Aug. 29 at McEwen Library. She provided information to help attendees make smart, healthy, lifelong choices.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The reminders are everywhere. Magazines, movies and TV, and shopping malls send messages that people should wear a certain size or weigh a certain amount.

Nicole Garnsey, a local nutritionist, visited Fort Drum on Aug. 29 to teach Soldiers and Family Members about nutrition, healthy eating habits, behavior, and lifestyle changes.

The number of people in the United States -- adults and children alike -- who are considered overweight or obese is growing every year, Garnsey said.

"Having a healthy body weight (is the goal), but that's different for all of us," she said, adding that poor body image is no longer only an adult problem.

Promoting healthy food choices is up to parents, and healthy nutrition should be practiced as a family, Garnsey explained. Teaching children about nutrition can help set them up for a healthy adulthood.

As the mother of an 8-year-old, Garnsey said she doesn't allow the "F-word" in her house -- by F, she means fat.

"We as parents really play a pivotal role in our children's beliefs and values about nutrition and food," she explained. "They look to us to make choices for them and help guide their decisions. Learning as much as we can about food, dieting and nutrition (can help us) do the best we can for our children.

"It's not about being at a perfect weight; it's about being at a healthy weight for your size and shape," Garnsey added.

One important thing parents can do to promote good health for their children is limit "screen time" -- watching TV, playing on the computer and video games, Garnsey said. Another way parents can promote better nutrition at home is taking the time to plan meals for the week and be in control of the kinds of food in the house.

"What challenges us is time management," Garnsey said. "We only have so much time, and we have to prioritize. Often, our meals tend to be the last thing on our to-do lists. If all of us stayed at home, didn't have responsibilities, lived by ourselves and there was no one relying on us, diet and exercise would be simple."

Garnsey doesn't promote the word "diet" in the sense of an eating plan to lose weight.
"Dieting is a short-term fix for long-term challenges," she said. "I really believe there isn't a place for 'fad diets' because I don't think they are effective."

Fad diets like low-carbohydrate, cutting out certain food groups and eating only certain foods are hard to follow and maintain, and they can be unhealthy if used long term, Garnsey explained.

A good way to judge a protein portion for a moderately active person is to use the palm as a guide. For example, a piece of meat should be no wider or thicker than a person's palm, Garnsey noted.

"What I love about that (example) is that all of our (hands) are different sizes -- and this works for children as well," she explained. "(Often), we portion what we think our children will eat; we teach our children to overeat when we provide larger portions than what their little stomachs really need. If you let children portion food themselves, they tend to eat less than we think they would eat.

"I don't believe in good foods and bad foods; all food has a place," she continued. "It's a matter of portion and moderation and teaching our children and ourselves that we can't have pizza and ice cream every day. We have to find a common ground."

Page last updated Thu September 6th, 2012 at 09:58