Dads of the world, your special day is approaching. This means that the time is coming to reflect on years of life, love and, of course, our favorite “dad-isms.” We’ve all heard our fair share of, “because I said so” responses. Now it’s your turn to listen up about your health, because we said so.
“Dadbod” isn’t the only reason we have to believe that some Dads might not be taking the best care of their health. According to our 2015 Food and Health Survey, 46% of men spend more time following their favorite sports team than tracking the healthfulness of their diet. We also know that women are more likely to be taking action when it comes to practicing healthful eating behaviors like eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
This Father’s Day, we hope you encourage your dad to take some “me” time and reflect on their health. Dads, what are some health choices you can modify to make sure you are feeling like your happiest and healthiest self? Think about starting with these 5 important nutrients to help you feel your best. Enough with the “do as I say, not as I do” mantra. Listen up to the following health tips, and set a great example for your friends and family.
1. Game On with Vitamin D
Vitamin D works hand-in-hand with calcium and phosphorus, together ensuring that your bones stay strong. Vitamin D has also been linked to the prevention of several chronic diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. You can get all of your vitamin D from the sun during the warmer months. But, we all know how busy your schedule can get, and sometimes getting enough sunlight each day isn’t always in the cards. Fear not, you can also get your daily-recommended dose of vitamin D from fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified cereals, some yogurts, orange juices, and milk. Go for the gold by aiming to get 200 IU a day for men up to age 50, 400 IU for men aged 51 to 70, and 600 IU for men over the age of 70.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acid: A New Kind of Fishing
According to the American Heart Association, omega-3 fatty acids help to keep your heart healthy by reducing the risk of abnormal heartbeats, lowering bad fat levels in the blood, slightly lowering blood pressure levels, and slowing the buildup of plaque in the blood. So go fish, by adding at least 2 servings (3.5 ounces) of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, or albacore tuna to your diet each week. Not a fish fan? You can also get your daily dose of omega-3’s by adding walnuts, flaxseeds, soybeans, or tofu to your diet. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume at least 250mg/day of omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Fiber up!
It’s no secret that you cherish your time on the Porcelain Throne. Fiber helps to regulate the digestive system, keeping your bathroom visits on a more predictable schedule. It also helps you to feel fuller longer, allowing you to better control that healthy dad figure of yours. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that men eat at least 30 grams of fiber each day. Fiber is found in foods like beans, whole grains, nuts, berries and vegetables. You can also find a variety of foods that are fortified with fiber, like granola bars and smoothies, for an extra boost. Add some extra fiber to your diet by having whole grain cereal for breakfast, adding frozen vegetables to your favorite sauces or pasta dishes, or adding a side of fruit to your lunch.
4. Beta-Carotene: “The ‘Beta’ to See You With, My Dear”
Beta-carotene is a pigment found in plants that is converted into Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A helps to maintain good vision and eye health, a strong immune system, and healthy skin. And let’s face it, you need to keep your eyesight strong to maximize your fathering capabilities… and your golf game. Studies show that people who consume at least 4 or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables that are rich in beta-carotene may reduce their risk of developing heart disease or cancer. Foods that are rich in beta-carotene include most fruits and vegetables that are orange or yellow (like carrots, peppers, and squash). It also includes broccoli and green leafy vegetables. So, next time you’re “not sleeping, just resting your eyes,” give credit to beta-carotene for your optimal vision once you open them again.
5. Protein: “Where’s the beef?”
Last, but certainly not least, is protein. Protein is composed of building blocks called amino acids. Protein is found throughout the body, making up your muscles (even your heart muscle), bones, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part. While protein may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to be aware of how much you are eating each day to make sure you are meeting your needs. The average daily amount of protein to prevent deficiency in men is 60-75 grams, but needs vary based on weight and physical activity level. Also, that doesn’t take into account eating enough protein for optimal health. To give you a reference, 3 ounces of lean beef has about 22 grams of protein in it. So “beef up” with some lean sources of protein like boneless, skinless chicken and turkey breasts, or vegetarian options like beans, nuts and soy foods.
Now remember dads, “We’re not just talking to hear our own voices!” We want you to be the happiest and healthiest you can be. After all, you deserve it. Happy Father’s Day!
Blog by Meaghan Butler, a Sodexo Dietetic intern