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Eat Well to Feel Well: Your Plan for Good Health


November, 2005

This fact sheet has ideas about healthy diet and good nutrition. These ideas can help you be healthy and feel well. It also includes your Personal Food Guide Pyramid. You can:

1. Fill in your own information.
2. Post the Pyramid at home to remind yourself to eat well.
3. Use the Pyramid to tell others how to eat well!

At the end of this fact sheet are resources that can help you eat well, and phone numbers of people who can answer your questions about diet and food and nutrition.

Your Plan for Good Health can help you choose the right diet for you:

The Basic Diet
The Special Needs Diet
The Live Long and Healthy Diet

For any diet, good nutrition and smart eating are important. Good nutrition is good for you! A healthy diet means good nutrition. Good nutrition can make you feel better and can keep you from getting sick. Good nutrition has some real ‘pluses’! Usually, people with good nutrition

+ are happy and have energy;
+ do not have constipation or diarrhea;
+ and are not too fat or too thin.

Smart eating is up to you! S-M-A-R-T eating means five simple things: (1) Store your food safely; (2) Shop wisely to save Money; (3) Ask to learn more about eating well; (4) Take Responsibility for choosing healthy foods; and (5) Make meals that Taste great.

The Basic Diet

The basic diet gives you what you need every day. It keeps you well. It gives you enough energy to do the things you want to do. What does the basic diet have?

  • All the nutrients that most healthy people need. (Nutrients are things like vitamins, protein, calcium and iron).
  • Foods that you like and that are good for you. You do not have to eat foods you hate. Some things that taste good are not part of a basic diet. Things like cookies and soda pop do not have nutrients your body needs.
  • Foods that fit the way you think and live. If your religion says you must not eat some foods, do not eat them. Some religions say you should not eat meat that comes from pigs. Meat from pigs includes ham, bacon and pork chops. Some people do not eat meat at all.
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains have many of the nutrients you need. Whole wheat bread, brown rice, corn bread, oatmeal and bran flakes cereal have whole grains. They are healthier than white bread, white rice, and sugary cereal.
  • Clean and safe food. Germs can grow in food and spoil it and make you sick. Cold foods like cheese and tuna salad must stay cold until you eat them or put them in the refrigerator. Hot foods, like chili and roast chicken, must stay hot until you eat them or put them in the refrigerator.
  • Exercise and move your body! Exercise and moving your body are part of the basic diet. The foods you eat give your body the energy to move. If you do not use the energy, you might get fat or sick. If you eat good food, exercise and move, your body will work right.

How Do I Get a Basic Diet? Use your Personal Food Guide and your Food Guide Pyramid to make a plan to get everything your body needs for the next week. Write down all the meals and snacks you will eat. Then you won’t have to think about what to eat every day. You can write your choices on your Food Guide Pyramid. It can help you make your own menus. It shows what kinds of foods you need to eat and drink, and how much of each thing you need to be healthy. A plan also helps you save money on groceries.

The Special Needs Diet

The Special Needs Diet is a healthy diet that has what your own body needs. It leaves out foods that are not good for you. If you need a special diet, please learn as much about it as you can. Your food might be cooked in a special way. If you have diabetes, learn what foods are safe to eat. If you need a low fat diet, find out which foods have a lot of fat and which foods have a little fat. If the Food Guide Pyramid does not have what your body needs, talk to your doctor, a nutritionist or a dietitian. They can help you make menus for a Special Needs Diet.  A Special Needs Diet is good for:

People who have trouble chewing and swallowing food: A doctor might say that some foods should be put in a blender. Some food might be cut up into small pieces that are easy to chew and swallow. People who have trouble chewing and swallowing should not eat food that might make them choke.

People who have the flu: People with the flu might need to drink more liquid than usual. A doctor can say what liquids are good for the flu and how much to drink.

People with diarrhea or constipation: A doctor or a dietitian knows what foods are good for healthy bowel movements. Some people with diarrhea or constipation have a food allergy. A doctor can figure out what foods cause problems. Then the doctor or a dietitian can replace those foods with other healthy choices.

People with diabetes: Doctors and dietitians work to make sure that people with diabetes have diets with the right amount and types of sugars and other foods. Proper diets give people with diabetes the energy they need to be healthy and live active lives.

People with cancer: People with cancer usually have a team of doctors helping them. The doctors work with dieticians to plan a special needs diet that makes cancer patients stronger so they can fight their disease.

Overweight or underweight people: Overweight people might need a low-fat or low-calorie diet. A dietitian can help plan this kind of special needs diet. A dietitian can also plan a special needs diet for people who need to gain weight.

People who don’t move much: Some people are not able to exercise or move much. These people might not be using much energy and they don’t need as much food as other people. A doctor or a dietitian can help plan a healthy diet so these people don’t get fat.

The Live Long and Healthy Diet

If you eat a good Basic Diet or Special Needs Diet that meets your every day needs, what comes next? The Live Long and Healthy Diet does more than the basic diet and the special needs diet. Every day the Live Long and Healthy Diet gives your body what it needs to be healthy plus it can help you live a long time! If you eat a Live Long and Healthy Diet you may feel happier and have more energy. You might not get diarrhea, constipation, heart disease or cancer.

Here are some ideas for a Live Long and Healthy Diet:

1. Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and low-fat milk products.

2. Choose foods low in fat, sugar and salt. Junk food has a lot of fat, sugar and salt.

3. Think before you eat candy, pizza, or soda. Will they help you live a long and healthy life? A little junk food is ok for parties, but eat only one serving.

4. Most people need a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. Ask your doctor if you need a vitamin and mineral supplement. If you need one, take the kind your doctor suggests. Do not take extra vitamins or supplements. Too much of a supplement can make you sick.

5. Talk to your doctor at each visit about other ideas for a Live Long and Healthy Diet.

Your Nutrition Rights

  • You have the right to a basic diet that meets your body’s needs and keeps you healthy.

  • You have the right to a diet that follows your beliefs.

  • You have the right to safe food that is served in a pleasant way.

  • You have the right to a diet with many kinds of fresh, whole foods.

  • You have the right to choose foods you will or will not eat.

  • You have the right to know about your special needs and foods that work for you.

  • You have the right to be part of food and nutrition research studies and of groups that decide how you should eat and stay healthy.

  • You have the right to be respected and treated fairly by food and nutrition professionals.

List of Words

A Diet is all the foods that you usually eat. A Basic Diet has enough of the right kinds of food to help your body work properly. A Special Diet has enough of the right foods for a person whose body works differently than most other people’s bodies. People who are too fat or too thin need a special diet. People with diabetes or seizures or food allergies also might need special diets. A Live Long and Healthy Diet helps your body work better and live longer.

Exercise is physical activity that gets your body moving.

Junk Food doesn’t have many nutrients. It usually has a lot of fat or sugar or salt. Candy, cake, cookies, chips and ice cream are junk food. Many junk foods are eaten out of a package or heated in a microwave or oven. Other junk foods are fast food restaurant fries, soda pop, TV dinners, frozen pizza, hot dogs, baloney, canned soup, ramen noodles, and microwave popcorn.

Low-fat foods have less fat that gets stored in your body. Many foods have some fat in them. Junk foods might have a lot of fat.

A Menu is a plan for all the food you will eat for one meal or in one day or one week. You can make a menu for a whole week of meals at one time. You can list foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. A menu helps you plan a good diet, and saves money and time on shopping.

Nutrients are the parts of your food that keep your body healthy and working well. Vitamins and minerals are nutrients. Calcium is a nutrient in milk that is good for your bones. Protein is a nutrient in meat, chicken, fish, beans, nuts, tofu, and milk that helps your body work right, grow strong, and heal when it gets hurt.

A Nutritionist or dietitian is an expert on diets and foods who helps people plan a good diet.

A Serving is the amount of a food that you should eat. One slice of bread is one serving, so a sandwich counts as two bread servings. You might need to use measuring spoons and cups to see how much one serving is for some foods. One measuring cup of milk is a serving. One measuring tablespoon of salad dressing is a serving. If the Personal Food Guide says:

Cup – use a measuring cup, not a coffee mug or a tea cup. A measuring cup might hold more or less food or liquid than a drinking cup.
Oz. – Means “ounce”. Some foods, like yogurt or soda pop, show the number of ounces on the package. For meat, chicken, fish, or cheese, use Food Guide serving sizes.
Tbl. – tablespoon. Use a measuring spoon, not an eating spoon.
Tsp. – teaspoon. Use a measuring spoon, not an eating spoon.

Resources: Write the names and telephone numbers of people and offices in your town that can answer your questions and help you learn about food and nutrition. If you call and no one answers, leave a message asking the person to call you back.

Nutritionist or dietitian
Name: __________________________
Telephone number: _________________

Public Health Department
Name: __________________________
Telephone number: _________________

County Extension Foods/Nutrition Agent
Name: __________________________
Telephone number: _________________

Health care provider
Name: __________________________
Telephone number: _________________

Use your phone or computer to learn more about nutrition! Here’s where to start:

Cooperative Extension Service agents know about menu planning, food budgets, and other topics. To find your County Extension office, call 202-720-7441 and ask for the phone number of your county office or visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html . Click on your state. Find your county office.

Links to Montana County Extension Offices

Dietary Guidelines for Americans can help you, your family, or your assistants make healthy food that taste good too. Go to http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/

Montana Disability and Health Program has nutrition resources for persons with disabilities. https://mtdh.ruralinstitute.umt.edu/Directory/Nutrition.htm  or call 406-243-2460.

National Center for Physical Activity and Disability has information about exercise and activity for persons with all types of disabilities. http://www.ncpad.org/

Government Center for Food Safety: Go to http://www.foodsafety.gov

We based Eat Well to Feel Well: Your Plan for Good Health on what we know about nutrition for adults with physical disabilities and adults without disabilities. As we learn more about nutrition for adults with intellectual disabilities, we will update the Plan.  Please tell us what you think about Your Plan for Good Health!

For more information, contact:

Kathleen Humphries, Ph.D., khumphries@ruralinstitute.umt.edu
Montana Disability and Health Program
The University of Montana Rural Institute
52 Corbin Hall, Missoula, MT 59812-7056
888-268-2743 toll-free;
406-243-5467 Voice;
406-243-4200 TTY
406-243-2349 (fax)

Opinions expressed are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the funding agencies.
This report is available in Braille, large print and text formats on request.

Prepared by Kathleen Humphries, Meg Traci, & Tom Seekins. Reviewed by People First members, MTDH Advisory Board, & Montana Dietetics Association Executive Board.