I'm not going to tell you that good nutrition and good eating habits
come easily - they don't. But what I can say is it gets easier, so easy
you eventually don't even think about it. Habits are just that - things
you have to learn to do, until you're doing them automatically. So even
though some of these methods might seem too difficult or confusing to
try, what you should be interested in is the end result - better health
and better food.

   Let's start with knowing what you eat. A Nutrition Facts label is very
important to controlling consumption of lots of things that you need to
control, both good and bad. You'll want to know about the quantity in
each serving of the following things, in order of importance:

           Protein
          Carbohydrates
           Fiber
           Sodium
           various vitamins

   Protein comes from your meats and poultries, and some vegetables
(beans, mostly). Carbohydrates come from vegetables, fruits, and
grains. Fiber helps control the absorption of carbs in your system, and
sodium is necessary, but not too much. What you"ll find as you
starting looking at labels, and then counting these nutrients up, is
you"ll actually be able to SEE how much of any given food has the
proper balance for good nutrition.

   I loosely follow the Zone and the Adkins diets, but mostly to give
myself a basis for visualizing my portions. Oh yes...portion control is
number 1 to health, sorry, but true. Matching your portions to the
amounts of nutrients you need will get easier as you go. But honest!
Once you have learned this self-control, how good you feel and how
much better off you are health-wise will really stop you from missing
the all-you-can-eat buffets and Dairy Queen Blizzards!

Now, since I've got Type II diabetes, which just requires oral
medication and dietary control, I'm going to have to be sterner about
sticking with a plan, so that others who want to get on top of this
condition can get the most help from what I have here. What the
undiagnosed crowd can get from this is how NOT to get Type II. I have
no history of diabetes in my family, but I DO know when I started
gaining weight because of eating lots of bread and noodles and
processed foods. I believe there is a direct correlation. So, healthy
eating benefits everybody - and kids the most. Seen the calories on
the side of a Coke can? At least buy diet!

So, let's start with a couple of excellent websites that can explain the
Nutrition Facts labels very well, and then an easy spreadsheet to help
you use them:
Eating Healthy
This is great introduction to what a label
can tell you about the product you've
selected. Focus on serving size, which is
the easiest way to portion control. See my
'Weight & See' Log for easy tracking.
What if it doesn't have a label? This site is
extremely informative about individual
foods like fruits and meats, as well as
showing where the food is in fat, carb, and
protein quantities.
Don't like too much figuring, or notebooks
to haul around logging? Just save the
labels. Remember the portion. Enter it in
the columns and let the spreadsheet do the
rest. Just 'save as' to your computer (you'll
need Excel or convert it to the spreadsheet
program you have) and then list as you
wish. There's an instruction page in the file,
first page. Start good habits now!