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Snug swimsuit shows it's time to eat better

June 27, 1997
Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT)

From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman

(CNN) -- Welcome to swimsuit season.

If you've already tackled the task of trying on last year's model, you probably found that your holiday eating binge lingers on your hips, and the New Year's resolution you made to exercise more and eat better lasted roughly until you saw that new flavor of Ben & Jerry's in the ice cream freezer.

There's barely a nutrition story on all of that won't tell you what you already knew: that keeping your weight down will keep your heart healthier and lower the risk of a zillion other maladies. And the only sure way to keep your weight steady is to eat properly and exercise regularly.

Most of us know how to exercise. Take a brisk walk around the block -- or a brisk jog, if you're up to it -- or go to the gym for an hour a day, three days a week. Sticking to your regimen is, in many cases, just a question of convincing yourself that you're forming a new habit.

But eating right? The information out there is too contradictory and frustrating, and seems to deny you most of the foods you like. Where to turn for guidance?


Cyberdiet bills itself as a site aimed at achieving a healthy lifestyle, and its information backs up the claim. When you're ready to start eating better and taking better care of yourself, use their body mass index chart to find out your status and how far you have to go to reach your goal.

You can calculate your hip-to-waist ratio to find out where your body is carrying most of its weight, which helps you determine if you fall into a number of health-risk categories. Based on your height, weight, gender and activity level, you also can figure how many calories you should be eating daily to lose, gain or maintain your current weight.

Once you know how many calories you need, the site has a list of foods and drinks you can consume for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks; recipes are included. Use the "update" feature to select how many portions you should have of each item each day; when you're done, the site will automatically tally up your daily calorie consumption.

French fries are never on the menu at Cyberdiet, nor is chocolate heavily featured. Guess that tells you something else you already knew.

Magazine site offers holistic choices

Delicious! magazine

Although there are many choices on the Cyberdiet menu, eventually you're bound to get bored. To find new eating inspiration, check out Delicious! magazine's Web site, updated monthly.

The magazine's primary focus is living holistically. Thus, you will find stories such as June's "Travel Smart" article on using herbs and natural unguents to keep your skin from drying out during air travel. But the name of the magazine is Delicious!, after all, and if they want you to live a healthy life, their recipes should mirror their name.

Vegetarian is the key word to remember in Delicious! recipes. For June, they feature a grilling extravaganza, with an emphasis on bean curd products. Archives for the past three years are available on the site. And, of course, there is a nutritional breakdown for every recipe.

Let your heart be your guide

American Heart Association

"Wait a minute," I can hear you exclaim. "You want me to cook?" Pardon me for jumping ahead. If you're in the beginners' group, and barely know what constitutes a balanced meal, it's time to visit the American Heart Association site for a lesson.

The so-called four basic food groups have fallen out of favor among nutritionists, most of whom now recommend you follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid to satisfy your daily nutritional needs.

This is harder than the old system; it's harder to remember the ins and outs of the pyramid, but nutritionists think it's a more accurate guideline for eating well.

The American Heart Association is one of the many groups that has adapted the pyramid for its own purposes.

The association really couldn't care less whether last year's swimsuit fits you properly; its goal is to keep you from getting a heart attack (a considerably less pleasant experience than shopping for new beach gear). To learn about the food pyramid and find out how it applies to your grocery-shopping habits, check out their "Home, Health & Family" guide on their Web site.

Association cookbooks also are available for sale on the site. A sample recipe from each book is included, as are unrelated recipes-of-the-month. May's recipe was "Normandy Pork with Calvados Cream Sauce" which, remarkably, had only 6 grams of fat per serving. The June recipe, "German Bundled Trout and Vegetables," has 10 grams of fat per serving. (It's fish and vegetables wrapped in foil, then baked. You can do that. Trust me).

Check out the Food section in CNN Plus

CNN Plus

Still not convinced that you can motivate yourself? If calorie counts are the only thing you can relate to, go pronto to the Food area of the new CNN Plus site.

It will tell you everything you want to know about the food you eat -- from quick takes on food additives -- "What is carrageenan and what does it do for me?" to the basics of vitamins and minerals -- "How much salt am I allowed to have every day?" A comprehensive nutritional chart is available, with numbers from the USDA's Nutrient Data Lab. It ranges from booze to beef (as well as healthier choices). Calories, fat, fiber, cholesterol, protein and iron are in the breakdown.

While this information is constant, the site also provides meal suggestions. You can check out the recipes under the "Healthy" category on the page, or search the Cooking Light recipe archive -- type in the ingredients you have on hand in the Cooking Light search engine, and it will pull up recipes with those ingredients.

With all these tasty alternatives available, won't you please put down that cheeseburger? You can do better than that. The Web makes it easy.

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