Picture of Fit and Fabulous as You Mature Fit and Faboulous as You Mature, NIDDK, Weight-control Information Network
Publications
Return to the NIDDK Home

Page.

Did you know? Being healthy and active are important—for you and for the people who depend on you. If you are overweight and inactive, you are more likely to get:
  • Type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Breast or colon cancer.

You can improve your health if you Move More and Eat Better!


Illustration of three women walking outdoors

About
Sisters
Together

Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better is a program for Black women to help you maintain a healthy weight by being active and making healthy food choices. This booklet gives you tips on how to get moving, how to prepare healthy, tasty meals, and how to eat right when you’re on the go.


Why Move
More and
Eat Better?
Being active and making smart food choices is good for your health. But that’s not the only reason to move more and eat better. You can:
  • Have more energy
  • Reduce stress
  • Relieve boredom or depression
  • Look good in stylish clothes
  • Feel better about yourself
  • Set a good example for your family.

Tips on Moving More Physical activity doesn't have to be a chore. You can "sneak" it into your day, a few minutes at a time. To get a total of at least 30 minutes of activity most days, try making these small changes in your daily routine:
  • Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take 2 or 3 short walking breaks at work each day.
  • Walk around the house while you talk on a cordless phone.
It’s never too late to start moving more. Physical activity can help you manage health problems like arthritis, osteoporosis (bone loss), and heart disease. It can help:
  • Keep your arms, legs, and body flexible
  • Keep your bones and muscles strong
  • Keep your heart and lungs healthy
  • Control high blood sugar, especially if you lose weight
  • Let you keep living in your own home without help.
There are even things you can do around the house, like getting up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote control, or lifting weights (you can even use two soup cans as hand weights), or dancing to the radio. Try stretching and deep breathing—they’re relaxing and help keep you from feeling stiff. Stretch slowly and only as far as feels comfortable. Hold each stretch for 8 to 10 seconds without bouncing.
NOTE: If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, or obesity, or you are over 50, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Physical activity can be a social occasion. If you can, be active with a friend or a group—that way, you can cheer each other on, have company while you exercise, and feel safer when you’re outdoors.There are lots of ways to be active that are free or low-cost. You can:
  • Find a local school track where you can walk
  • Walk around a mall before the stores open
  • Go for a stroll in a local park
  • Join a recreation center near your home or church
  • Start a small garden in your yard, in a community garden, or in a window box.

Illustration of woman pushing her son in a whellbarrow

Tips on
Eating
Better
Eating a mixture of fruit, vegetables, and protein each day is key to a healthy lifestyle. Try these tips to eat better, stay healthy, save time, and stretch your food budget:
  • Start the day with breakfast.
  • Cook enough to last. Casseroles, meat loaf, and whole cooked chicken can feed your family for several days. Leftovers save time and money! (Be sure to freeze or refrigerate leftovers right away to keep them safe to eat.)
  • Protein is important to your health as you age. Try kidney or butter beans. Beans are loaded with protein and cost less than meat.
  • Buy frozen or canned vegetables (no salt added) and canned fruit packed in juice. They are just as good for you as fresh produce but won’t go bad.
  • Choose nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Choose whole-grain foods more often.
  • Don’t let soda, fruit-flavored drinks, or other sweets crowd out healthy foods.
  • Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water (the size of a household measuring cup) every day.
  • If your nearby store doesn’t have the foods you want, go to another store that has more choices. Start a weekly shopping carpool, share the cost of a taxi with friends, or ask a relative or neighbor for a ride.
    Tip: If you can’t digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and foods made with milk, try products made for people with lactose intolerance. Or try yogurt, which may be easier to digest than milk. You can also get the calcium your body needs by eating dark leafy vegetables like collard greens and kale, calcium-fortified juice and bread, and canned fish with soft bones (like salmon).

Reading
Food
Labels

Image of the Nutrition Facts food labelFood labels help you make smart choices. But they can be confusing. Here are some quick tips:*

Serving Size: All the information on a food label is based on the serving size. Be careful—one serving may be much smaller than you think! Compare what you eat to the serving size on the label.

Calories: Most women need to eat about 1,600 calories per day, with no more than 30 percent (about 480 calories) from total fat.**

% Daily Value: This tells you whether a food is high or low in nutrients. Foods that have more than 20 percent daily value of a nutrient are high. Foods that have 5 percent or less are low.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is the least healthy kind of fat. Compare labels on similar foods and try to choose foods with a lower % Daily Value of saturated fat.**

Sodium: Salt contains sodium. High sodium intake is linked to higher blood pressure. Look for labels that say “low-sodium.”

TIP: Many food labels say “low-fat,” “reduced fat,” or “light.” That doesn’t always mean the food is low in calories. Sometimes nonfat or low-fat muffins or desserts have added sugar. Remember, calories do count!
Illustration of a hot pie just out of the ovenFiber: You should eat at least 20 grams of fiber per day.*** Here are examples of high-fiber foods:
  • 1/2 cup all-bran cereal (about 8 grams of fiber)
  • 1/2 cup cooked beans (about 6 grams)
  • 1 cup corn (about 4 grams)
  • 1 medium apple (about 3 grams).
Sugar: Try to choose foods with little or no added sugar (like low-sugar cereals).
TIP: It’s important for post-menopausal women to get enough calcium—at least 1200mg per day (120% Daily Value, about four servings)—to help prevent bone loss. Eight ounces of milk has 300mg of calcium; one ounce of cheese has about 200mg.

* For more information on reading nutrition labels, see Using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, available from the Federal Consumer Information Center, 1-888-878-3256.

** From Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2000, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you need a special diet, check with your health care provider before following these guidelines.

*** American Dietetic Association


Illustration of three women at a table sharing a meal

Making Healthy
Meals That
Taste Good!
Fried foods and fatty meats taste good but can put too much saturated fat in your diet if you eat them often or in large amounts. There are other ways you can add flavor to your food. Try:
  • Baked, roasted, broiled, grilled, or oven-fried chicken, flounder, or bluefish made with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, or vinegar
  • Collard greens or kale made with onions, garlic, chicken broth or bouillon, smoked turkey, turkey bacon, or turkey ham (use broth and cured meats in small amounts—they are high in sodium)
  • Baked potatoes topped with salsa or low-fat sour cream
  • Salads and casseroles made with low-fat or nonfat salad dressing or mayonnaise, mustard, or flavored vinegar like balsamic.

Eating Away From Home In real life, you can’t always cook your meals. Here are some ways to make healthy choices when you’re away from home:
  • Use a small plate at social functions to help keep you from eating too much.
  • Choose more raw vegetables and fewer fatty foods like potato or macaroni salad.
  • Take ready-made, low-fat snacks with you when you'll be out all day. Try graham crackers or pretzels. Or, make your own snack bag with baby carrots (as many as you want), raisins, or nuts (no more than a small handful, since nuts and raisins are high in calories).
  • Balance your meals throughout the day. If you have a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast, eat a low-fat dinner of grilled chicken or fish.

Serving Sizes

Many people think that bigger is better. We’re so used to super-size servings that it’s easy to eat more than our bodies need. Eating smaller portions will help you cut down on calories and fat (and save money!). Here is a 1,600 calorie/day sample menu with sensible servings:*

Breakfast
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 English muffin with
1 tablespoon low-fat
cream cheese
1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup orange juice

Lunch
2 ounces baked chicken without skin (a little smaller than a deck of cards)
Lettuce, tomato, and cucumber salad with 2 teaspoons oil and vinegar dressing
1/2 cup white rice seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon margarine
1 small biscuit with 1 teaspoon margarine

Dinner
3 ounces lean roast beef (about the size of a deck of cards) with 1 tablespoon beef gravy
1/2 cup turnip greens seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon margarine
1 small baked sweet potato with 1/2 teaspoon margarine
1 slice cornbread
1/4 honeydew melon

Snack
4 Saltine crackers
1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese

TIP: Use margarine instead of butter. Choose soft margarines that have no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and that list liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient.
American Heart Association
Fried foods, high-fat foods, and take-out foods can be part of a balanced diet, if you don’t eat them every day and only eat small amounts. Here are sensible serving sizes for some favorite foods:
French fries: 1 small serving (equal to a child’s order)
Shrimp fried rice: 1 cup
Cheese pizza: 2 medium slices (if it’s the only high-fat food you eat that day) or 1 large slice

* Adapted from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sample menus.

Illustration showing appropriate relative serving sizes of meat and vegetables

This illustration shows proper serving sizes of a pork chop, potatoes, green beans, and bread.


You Can Do It!

Set goals. Move at your own pace. Reward your successes. Allow for setbacks. Let your family and friends help you. And keep trying—you can do it!

Illustration of three women dancing


Cookbooks

Heart-Healthy Home Cooking African American Style. NIH Publication No. 97-3792, 1997. This pamphlet tells how to prepare your favorite African American dishes in ways that will help protect you and your family from heart disease and stroke, and includes 20 tested recipes. Available from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for $2.50; call (301) 592-8573.

Down Home Healthy Cookin’. National Cancer Institute, reprinted 1996. This pamphlet features 14 tested recipes for traditional African American foods modified to be low in fat and high in fiber—but still tasty. Available from the National Cancer Institute; call 1-800-4-CANCER.


Weight-control Information Network
1 Win Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3665

Phone: (202) 828-1025
FAX: (202) 828-1028
Email:
win@info.niddk.nih.gov
Toll-free number: 1-877-946-4627


The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a national service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, which is the Federal Government’s lead agency responsible for biomedical research on nutrition and obesity. Authorized by Congress (Public Law 103-43), WIN provides the general public, health professionals, the media, and Congress with up-to-date, science-based health information on weight control, obesity, physical activity, and related nutritional disorders.


Publications
Return to the NIDDK Home

Page.
NIH Publication No. 01-4927
March 2001