John’s “common man” approach, which strikes a chord with many overweight Americans, was honed during his 10-year career in the weight loss industry. As Mr. Bad Food, he warns you of fast food, restaurant and supermarket landmines.

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Weekly Diet News Digest

by John McGran, Columnist

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If it's true that you are what you eat, we are in a whole lot of trouble. Fatty fast food. Additive-packed microwave entrees. Supersized restaurant servings. Cheese-choked pizza delivered to our door. All-u-can-eat buffets...

The list, my friend, is as long as our waist is wide.

Wouldn't it be nice to scrap all the crap and to find the nutrition secrets that'll allow us to look and feel our best at any age?

We can. And a beautiful, brainy model is here to lead us to the Promised Land.

Meet Valerie Ramsey. She's far from your stereotypical emaciated model type. She's bubbly and engaging... motivating and inspiring... and she's 68 and a mom of six and a grandmother of seven!

That's no typo. Yes, vivacious Valerie is all of 68... and she's only been modeling since reaching her Golden Years and being discovered while doing her day job as a fulltime public relations director for the hallowed Pebble Beach golfing resort.

And now she's an author too. Her awesome new book, Gracefully: Looking And Being Your Best At Any Age (McGraw-Hill) is chock-full of great advice for you and me.

So, Valerie, how can we better our habits to age gracefully like you?

"Many of us fall into the trap of eating the same foods the majority of the time â€" almost the way we wear 10 percent of our wardrobe 90 percent of the time," Valerie tells Diet.com.

"The problem is that once we develop eating habits, not only is it hard to change them, but we often don’t realize we’ve created the habits in the first place. Even if we’re choosing to eat healthy foods, if the menu isn’t varied, it’s unlikely that we’re giving ourselves the nutritionally balanced diet needed to maintain optimum health, energy and well-being.

"I learned to accept and embrace the notion that nutrition weighs in as one of the most important aspects of maintaining health and youthfulness."

The Benefits of Proper Nutrition

"I’ve also found that the well-known mantra of a big, healthy breakfast, a balanced lunch, and a light dinner early in the evening works wonders for keeping my tummy flat and knocking off a couple of pounds for that all-important occasion," Valerie says.

"There are several body types and being thin doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthier than someone who needs to shed some weight. Also, you need to redefine weight as “body fat” rather than the number you read on the scale. Muscle tissue and body fat are what matter, and most women do not have enough muscle. It’s about your clothing size, not the number on the scale."

10 Simple Rules we all should strive for

1. Drink a glass of water first thing every morning.

2. Eat slowly and sit down at every meal.

3. Eat breakfast or a snack within 45 minutes of waking.

4. Try never to eat a carbohydrate by itself; add a fat or protein.

5. Never go longer than four hours without eating.

6. Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily (small amounts at meals).

7. Eat dinner by seven o’clock.

8. Take at least one 15-minute break outside the office each day.

9. Make sure to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

10. Choose natural carbohydrates â€" the ones that come from the groundâ€"such as rice, yams, sweet potatoes, and beans.

Valerie says that like exercise, a sensible, balanced diet should become a habit, which is why fad programs don’t work.

Valerie continues, "Any limited diet may take weight off initially, but those diets are not healthy in the long run and are impossible to stick to â€" they are technically designed to fail. It has been proven over and over that you need a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats."

Despite what magazine or TV ads may promise, winning the war on wrinkles and age won't happen overnight. It is truly amazing what the body can do and recover from -- once you come face-to-face with what food is and how it works inside your body!

When you’re eating the right foods -- and getting a good night’s sleep -- the years will peel away from your face and body.

"Nutrition and eating right needn’t be daunting," Valerie says.
"There are ample resources available in magazines, books and television shows... in addition to doctors and professional nutritionists. The trick is learning how to weed through the data to find the nuggets you need.

"Keep away from fads and trendy diets because they often result in more damage than benefit. Prepare your grocery list at home by looking through your refrigerator and pantry â€" are there enough fruits, vegetables, and grains?

"Never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. It makes impulse buying irresistible. Prepare your list and then stick to it.

"Old habits are easier to break when they’re replaced with a new, desirable habit. What do you have to lose? A few pounds? And what you’ll gain will reward you tenfold."

Valerie says she's been "blessed" with healthy genes, yet she too must worry about putting on weight. Her extra pounds tend to settle on her hips and belly -- not a good look for a professional model!

"I'm sure a lot of women can relate to how a few pounds can make us feel unhappy in our clothes," says Valerie who was 63 when she was "discovered" while overseeing a photo shoot at Pebble ...    Continue

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@ 11:09am ET on May 27, 2008
I love these tips!


@ 12:15pm ET on May 27, 2008
Thanks for the great tips, and the ten simple rules!!

@ 10:43am ET on May 28, 2008
I just woke up today and grabbed a big glass of water. I've been struggling with drinking enough...usually because I have coffee from the time I get up until lunch time. Only one 1/2 cups...but I slowly sip it the whole time...when I could be upping my water intake!! So, I'm definitly going to try to make this habit stick!! :)

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