Five pounds lighter: Meal Makeover classes pay off for Owens family
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Oct 17, 2012 | 4646 views |  0 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Calhoun County Extension Agent Sheree Russell demonstrates how to make a healthy yogurt parfait. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
Calhoun County Extension Agent Sheree Russell demonstrates how to make a healthy yogurt parfait. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
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Five weeks later, the Owens family can see how little changes add up.

Without really trying, Lynetta Owens has dropped five pounds, and her daughter, Natalie, has also lost a bit of weight by implementing some of the tips they have been learning during a five-week class taught by the Calhoun County Extension Service.

“I’ve always been a label reader, but now I’m looking at more specifically what those labels mean, and that has helped in my food choices,” said Lynetta, who entered the Star’s Meal Makeover contest to help manage and ward off the diabetes and high blood pressure that run in her family.

Lynetta’s husband, Nathaniel Owens, has curbed his use of salt in favor of other spices when cooking the family’s meals — something that will benefit his health and that his wife is thankful for.

“I think we have benefitted marvelously,” Lynetta said.

In their final lesson, instructor Sheree Russell showed the family ways to reduce fat and LDL cholesterol — the “bad cholesterol” — in their diets.

She explained that diet and exercise are the main ways to control these two factors. While LDL cholesterol is not a fat, it is usually accompanied by saturated fat in foods, especially animal products. This is the cholesterol that forms plaque in blood vessels and can eventually lead to clogged arteries. Common sources of saturated fat include butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, shortening and fat-surrounding meats.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, peanut oil and canola oil and polyunsaturated fats such as soybean oil, safflower oil, corn oil, sesame oil, cottonseed oil and some fish tend to boost HDL (or “good”) cholesterol.

If you’re going to use fats, go for the good, monounsaturated fats, Russell said. In a healthy diet, no more than 30 percent of one’s calories should come from fat.

To reduce risk of coronary artery disease, Russell said, individuals should have their cholesterol checked at least once a year and try to keep their blood cholesterol levels below 200.

Russell emphasized the importance of planning for keeping one’s diet in line with the body’s needs.

“If you’re not a planning person, you’re going to struggle the most,” she said, noting that discipline and portion control are key for eliminating the “tiny bites” throughout the day that can add up to hundreds of calories by day’s end.

This week’s recipe offers a way to substitute empty calories found in sweets with yogurt, fruit and whole grains in the form of a layered parfait.

Lynetta has taken the tips that Russell has provided and compiled all of the handouts and information from the past five weeks and will create a Cent$ible Nutrition notebook that she and her family can refer back to for recipes, helpful hints and other information.

As the Owens family’s journey has been documented class-by-class, they have had coworkers and others inquire about the program, giving them an opportunity to share the lessons they’ve learned with others.

Any county resident can benefit from the program, as Russell’s classes are offered free of charge to interested residents.

For more information on the Cent$ible Nutrition program, contact the Calhoun County Extension Office at 256-237-1621.

Staff writer Paige Rentz:256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

Ring Around the Rainbow Parfait

4 tablespoons yogurt
2 tablespoons cereal
2 tablespoons one fruit
2 tablespoons another fruit

Place two tablespoons of yogurt in a clear cup. Add one tablespoon of cereal. Add two tablespoons of one fruit and two tablespoons of another. Add the last two tablespoons of yogurt, and top with the last tablespoon of cereal.

Meal Makeover Contest

Our contest winners received five weeks of healthy cooking classes taught by the Calhoun County Extension Service. Read previous stories in the series online at AnnistonStar.com.

For more info on the “Centsible Nutrition” class, contact the extension service at 256-237-1621.
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