Men, if you're going to make a New Year's resolution about your diet, try this. Eat less meat, chicken and fish.
If you want to look better, weigh less, feel more energetic, save money or perform better at sports, this simple, one-step plan will work.
Men often believe that eating meat is manly and helps to build muscle, because meat provides protein. In fact, physical work, like lifting weights, carrying heavy boxes, digging up the garden or rearranging furniture is what builds muscle.
When you eat too much meat, your body just turns it into carbohydrates and burns it for energy. This is very expensive, since meat costs more than high carbohydrate foods like bread, pasta and fruit.
And, most meat, chicken and fish comes attached to lots of fat that
makes you fat while it clogs your arteries and raises your cancer risks.
Admittedly, it's quite possible to choose very lean meats (3 grams fat per ounce), chicken without skin (2 g fat/ounce) and lemon-poached fish (1 g fat/ounce). But the guys I talk to are opting for bacon cheeseburgers (39 g fat each), crispy fried chicken (54 g fat per 1/2 chicken) and deep fried fish sandwiches (25 g fat each).
Men generally eat twice as much meat, chicken and fish as they need for strong muscles, good health and lean, mean physiques. The Food Guide Pyramid says a total of 7 ounces a day is plenty. That's equal to a chicken breast and thigh. For the whole day.
So the easiest way for a guy to improve his diet is to cut back on meat, chicken and fish. In fact, the ultimate goal could be to cut portions in half.
This resolution is easy to carry out. You don't have to weigh or measure, or even count fat grams. Just eat less than you usually do.
This is a great resolution because you win with the smallest improvements. Every time you leave even one bite on your plate, you're ahead of the game.
For promises you can keep, resolve to use these "just say less" strategies in '94:
* Order a quarter of a chicken instead of a half.
* Buy half a cold cut sub instead of a whole.
* Limit breakfast sandwiches to every other day.
* Eat half of large portions and doggie bag the rest.
When you cut out all that meat and fat, you'll be hungry. Fill in with more potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, fruit, vegetables and cereal.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.