Back-to-Basics for Smart Nutrition and Fitness



Eating right and exercising can feel complicated these days - especially if you pay attention to food advertising or visit a brand new fitness center. Many so-called experts would have you believe that staying in shape require tons of fortified foods, sports beverages, expensive supplements, and fancy exercise equipment. In fact, the truth about getting healthy and staying healthy is much easier to swallow - and not nearly as difficult or time-consuming as most people think.

“Simple, everyday choices are the cornerstones for the long, healthy, high-energy lives that we all want to enjoy,” says Ginny Furshong, Program Manager for Comprehensive Cancer Control at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. “The healthy habits that reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease may also help reduce the risk of cancer. And, these same smart choices also help children and adults achieve and maintain healthy weights.”

A balanced approach to food and fitness forms the foundation of all Montana healthy lifestyle programs, including Cancer Control, Cardiovascular Health, Diabetes Prevention, and the State Plan to Prevent Obesity. The smart everyday choices for promoting health and preventing chronic diseases are the same across the board: Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all food groups. Focus on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and beans. Enjoy at least 30 to 60 minutes of fun physical activity daily. Get plenty of sleep (7 to 8 hours a night for adults, more for children).

During the fall months, it’s easier than ever for Montana families to make nutrition and fitness choices for optimal health. Eat Right Montana (ERM), a statewide coalition promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles, suggests these three ways to maximize your family’s health and enjoyment this autumn.

• Stock up at a Farmer’s Market: Most of these community events in Big Sky country are open through late September or early October. All of them are filled with delicious nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy fresh produce - and to fill your freezer with local items to enjoy during the winter months.

• Serve some Montana wild game: Looking for healthier, local food options? Wild game may be just what the chef and the nutritionist ordered! While all meats are important sources of protein, iron, and B-vitamins, wild game (venison, elk, and antelope) have the added benefit of being low in fat and lower in saturated fat than most domesticated red meat.

• Enjoy fall in Big Sky country: There is no better time to enjoy than great outdoors than autumn - clear blue skies, crisp days, and cool nights without those summer crowds. This is the ideal time of year to explore the treasures of Montana parks and recreation sites - for biking, hiking, walking, boating, fishing, hunting, and wildlife photography.

“Montana’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan starts with prevention,” notes Ms. Furshong. “In terms of the lifestyle risk factors for cancer - tobacco use, poor nutrition, inactivity, obesity, and ultraviolet light exposure, establishing daily habits is the most important step that families can take. It does make a difference to keep your long term health in mind.

The programs of the MSU Extension Service are available to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Douglas Steele, Vice Provost and Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.

Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran's Preference Employer and educational outreach provider.