MANLY ART OF EATING Face it, guys, a great body starts in the kitchen, not in the gym


Well, guys, if you want to be fit, sexy and successful, it's time to get proactive about nutrition.

Pro what?

Proactive. That means you decide how you want your life to go, professionally and personally. While others decry the bad economy, you're out gathering new clients. And when co-workers complain they're too busy to eat right, you instead make good food choices based on long-term goals.

But that's not what most of you are doing, according to a survey released last week by the American Dietetic Association.

For example, more than half of men aged 20 to 74 have too-high blood cholesterol levels. But only 14 percent of those surveyed said they were eating less fat.

And while 82 percent of the men surveyed said they are at least "fairly concerned" about nutrition, just 53 percent reported changing their diets as a result.

Of the 500 American men surveyed, almost half cited health as the most important reason for eating right. That's good news, since the Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health demonstrates that five of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States are diet related.

Men's concern about nutrition hits a peak when they reach their 50s and early 60s, the report said. Younger men who take an interest in nutrition tend to focus on sports and physical fitness,rather than disease prevention. (That's probably because, when you're 20, it's hard to believe you'll ever be 30, much less old enough to have a heart attack!)

But most men miss the boat when it comes to realizing that good food choices can improve energy and mental alertness, as well as productivity and performance.

Disbelievers should just listen to what Nolan Ryan, 44, said after pitching his seventh career no-hitter: "I pay very close attention to my diet and feel it's one of the factors that has lent to my longevity."

And Barry Cutler, 47, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission, notes: "We have to forget the promise of any magic solution or shortcut, and get down to nutrition basics, one day at a time."

Of the men in the survey who admitted making dietary changes, most mentioned what they gave up, like fat and cholesterol. That's a step in the right direction.

But too few mentioned what they eat more of -- like fruits and vegetables.

Face it. Proactive nutrition requires an aggressive approach.

Start by breakfasting on big servings of museli or bran cereal. Add fresh strawberries, bananas and kiwi fruit. Top with skim milk. Drink a big glass of orange juice or grapefruit juice. Switch to decaf coffee.

"Power lunch" on hearty, vegetable-based soup. Add a big salad, choosing how much dressing you need from the side. Eat two chunks of bread. Limit butter to one pat.

Or build "light" sandwiches. Order half the meat. Choose three slices of seven grain or whole wheat bread. Ask for double tomato and lettuce. Hold the mayo. Finish with nonfat yogurt and a banana.

Dine on smaller portions of lean meats, chicken and fish. Choose an extra baked potato. Hold the sour cream and eat the skin. Have two vegetables. Hold the butter. Have two dinner rolls. Add a little jelly. Finish with half a cantaloupe filled with ice milk. Top with fresh raspberries.

Snack on a hard pretzel, a few bread sticks, a piece of fresh fruit, a couple of fig cookies, some raw veggies or even a small sandwich.

Eat only when you're hungry.

Stop eating at the first hint of fullness.

Get a little exercise.

You'll look better, feel better and improve your performance.

Go get 'em, Tiger.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

For a free copy of "Food Strategies for Men," send a self-addressed, business-size envelope to: The American Dietetic Association, c/o Lee Enterprises, P.O. Box 1068, Department LM20, South Holland, Ill. 60473.

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