Sunday, October 12, 2003

#25 What’s for lunch?

I discovered The National Cancer Institute’s calculator when I was doing some online research on leading lifestyle diseases (they are CHD, Lung cancer, stroke, COPD, diabetes, and colon cancer). We the people have almost complete control* over four out of the six contributors to these diseases: smoking, drinking, bad eating habits, and lack of exercise. We can’t always control high blood pressure and high cholesterol which are the other two contributors.

The NCI site encourages us to eat five fruits and vegetables a day, which really isn’t very many, especially if we count French fries and corn chips (although I think they don’t want me to cheat that way). Here’s what it told me about my score:

“Congratulations! You're doing a great job, both being active and eating 5 A Day. Upon reaching a goal, the next step is to stick with it. As you may know, the experts recommend eating at least 5 A Day every day, and at least 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity at least five days a week. People who eat 5 A Day and do 30 minutes of physical activity say they look better, feel better, and have more energy. Keep in mind that "5" and "30" are minimums — most of us would benefit from closer to nine servings and more than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day.”

Now to calculate, you are to enter a wild guess average based on the last six months. I had to fudge a bit on the exercise, but it was accurate as of six months ago. The Parks and Recreation Department of Columbus has had to close its walking program at the nearby Bill McDonald complex due to budget cuts. It has a great floor and there was never an excuse like weather or roaming dogs NOT to walk. Now I walk outside, on asphalt if I can find it to protect my shin bones, or I ride the exercycle in my office (really boring).

I really doubt that I’m getting 30 minutes a day anymore. Fortunately, I happen to like fruits and vegetables, much more than exercise. For breakfast, I ate a pear and had a glass of orange juice this morning, and some Ritz crackers with cheddar cheese spread. And then there’s that little disclaimer that NCI really wants me to have 9 servings.

*I have a friend who has COPD not from lifestyle, but childhood illness.

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