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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 17, 2001

Food for thought this Father's Day

By Amy Tousman

This Father's Day I feel blessed by the facts that I have such a caring father and my daughter also has a special father. Last year, her father went to see Dr. Dale Adams of Kailua for a treadmill test. This test is used to measure the heart's capacity for exercise. The nurse was shocked at his blood pressure, which was outrageously high. The doctor let him know how close he was to a stroke within the next six months.

By following a high-fiber, reduced-calorie diet (you know the kind: with lots of fruits and vegetables), my husband has reduced his dose of medication. He is now 30 pounds lighter, and his doctor no longer worries about rushing him to a hospital. His dedication to improve his health is motivated by the fact that he wants to see his daughter grow up.

While all you dads are being given some well-deserved pampering by your families this Father's Day, you may show them you care by taking care of your own health.

If you haven't had a physical in a few years, you should start there. This is especially important if diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke or prostate cancer run in your family. These are diseases that are common in Hawai'i's men. They are related to the foods men are eating. Frequent plate lunches and fast foods detract from our health. These meals tend to be high in meat and refined starches, but low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

If you eat out a lot, restaurants recommended by participants in Straub's Weight Management Program include Oh So Ono CafÚ (there are grilled salmon and broiled chicken plate lunches available); Bale (home of phú noodle soup, great Vietnamese salads and sandwiches); and Zippy's, which has great vegetarian chili and offers heart-healthy items from the Shintani Diet.

Since moms are working outside the home more, dads are taking a more active role in shopping and preparing family meals. Balancing busy work schedules and good nutrition is a challenge to any father.

Here are some other ways for dads to increase their nutrition:

  • Eat breakfast. Having no food in the body after an overnight fast reduces your concentration and productivity.
  • Keep lunches light. Midday overeating leads to drowsiness.
  • At lunch and dinner, picture your plate divided into quarters. Half the plate should be filled with vegetables. The rice should take up one quarter and the meats should take up one quarter. The vegetables will take up space in your stomach so you won't need as much meat.
  • Bring lunch to work. A sandwich and a fruit or leftovers are easy.
  • Pack your desk or briefcase with low-fat snacks such as rice cakes, low-salt crackers and dried fruits.
  • Pack a small cooler with fresh fruits to eat between meals.
  • When eating out, choose entrees that contain lots of vegetables, such as sukiyaki, hekka, beef broccoli, shrimp with vegetables, or wor won ton mein.
  • When ordering a plate lunch, choose the "mini." Replace the mac salad with tossed salad.
  • Chicken Ceasar salad and a bowl of minestrone soup makes a filling lunch.
  • When shopping for meats, choose lean cuts such as tenderloin, sirloin, round or extra-lean ground beef (12 percent fat or less).
  • Use marinades of lemon juice, flavored vinegars, fruit juices or small amounts of olive oil.
  • When you are full, stop eating. Today's leftovers become tomorrow's lunch.

My favorite meal to prepare when I'm in a hurry is frozen saimin (has less salt and fat than the dry type). I add frozen vegetables and lean ham. I use only half the flavor packet to reduce the sodium.

Set a good example for the rest of your family to follow. That way, the whole family will be healthy, just like dad. By the way, Happy Father's Day.

Amy Tousman is a registered dietitian at Straub Clinic & Hospital Inc. and a member of the Hawai'i Dietetic Association.

Hawai'i experts in traditional medicine, naturopathic medicine, diet and exercise take turns writing the Prescriptions column. Send your questions to: Prescriptions, 'Ohana Section, The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802; e-mail ohana@honoluluadvertiser.com; fax 535-8170. This column is not intended to provide medical advice; you should consult your doctor.