Overeating at Thanksgiving is an American tradition, but according to a recent study, North Carolina ranked low in healthy diets year-round.
24/7 Wall St. ranked the average diet of a resident in each of the 50 states. The study said that California was first with the most healthy diets and Mississippi was last with the worst diet habits. North Carolina ranked number 36th, followed by many other Southern states.
The study used multiple categories to rank the average diet in each state including average consumption of vegetables, fruit and soda among adults and high school students.
The study indicates that North Carolina’s obesity rate is nearly 30 percent, ranking about mid-pack among the nation’s states. Soda consumption is a leading contributor to the poor diet, according to the study. Twenty-eight percent of high school-aged North Carolina residents consume soda at least once a day, which is the ninth-highest number in the nation.
Additionally, only about 58 percent of adults eat fruit at least once daily.
Dean Carpenter, who manages the Northern Wellness and Fitness Center in Mount Airy, said soda is something folks should attempt to limit — if not entirely remove — from their diets.
“It’s ideal to completely abstain from drinking soda,” said Carpenter. “You should replace it with water.”
Carpenter said lots of people worry about a calorie-count, but sugar can be just as unhealthy and can contribute just as much to weight gain.
“Sugar is actually toxic to the body,” explained Carpenter. “It creates an insulin response that is inflammatory.”
Excess sugar is eventually turned into fat cells, Carpenter went on to say. While soda has plenty of bad affects on the body, Carpenter said it brings nothing good to the table.
“Soda has absolutely no nutritional value,” remarked Carpenter.
As for fruit, Carpenter said just the opposite is true. Those looking to maintain a healthy diet should eat a little more of it. Carpenter said in addition to all the normal vitamins and minerals, fruits contain phytonutrients, which are nutritious.
Poor diet is the number one contributor to obesity, and with the holiday season beginning, temptation is working against anybody who is trying to eat healthy.
According to Carpenter one can still enjoy a full meal with family and friends if they simply take a few steps toward eating healthy. He said it starts on Thanksgiving morning.
“Eat a full, nutritious breakfast,” said Carpenter.
Carpenter went on to explain that some folks skip breakfast with the plans of making up for the missed meal at the lunch or dinner table. Carpenter said that’s not healthy and will only lead to overeating later in the day.
Carpenter also said drinking water with the meal and 30 minutes prior to the meal can help limit an appetite, giving a person a satiated feeling when they pick up their fork.
Eating slowly, completely chewing food and having conversation with friends and family members can also decrease overeating, according to Carpenter. In short, slowing down a little gives the body time to realize its full.
Carpenter also said the main course, not dessert, is the place to gorge yourself if you must. He said its best to fill up on protein, like the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.
Save the sweets for last, said Carpenter, who also said those portions should be limited. He said hopefully once a person fills up on turkey not much room will be left for the after-dinner treats.
Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698.