As we come to the close of another year, I think about the stressors that our nutrition status has faced. COVID-19 caused long work hours making it hard to plan nutritious meals. The stress associated with the pandemic increased mindless eating. For many, the diagnosis of COVID-19 stressed bodies and increased the need for proper nutrition. When we needed it most, good nutrition took a back seat to just surviving.
COVID is not the only thing that I reflect upon. I’ve had multiple conversations with patients that I’ve seen for Medical Nutrition Therapy. I’ve talked to people who have been diagnosed with Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Kidney Disease. I’ve helped people who need to gain or lose weight. I think about those conversations and find that my advice was almost the same for everyone.
For many, practicing good nutrition is confusing. The good news is, it’s easy to meet our needs by following a few basics.
• Eat more fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are lower in calories and higher in fiber than other foods. Fiber is helpful in regulating blood glucose, managing blood lipids, and providing satiety which assists with weight loss.
• Fruits and vegetables also provide important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These compounds help fight diseases and improve our immune system
• Choose whole grains. Whole grains like Oatmeal, Barley, and Quinoa provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. I often recommend a bowl of oatmeal every day to improve blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
• Eat less beef and more poultry and fish. Lower fat protein options help improve blood lipids.
• Choose heart healthy fats like olive oil. Nuts also contain heart healthy fats, but be careful, like all fats, heart heathy fats are high in calories so use in moderation.
• Replace sugary beverages with water, unsweetened tea, and other unsweetened beverages.
• Practice mindful eating. Ask yourself, “am I hungry?”, “am I full?”, “do I really want to eat this?” Eat when you are hungry but stop when you are full.
• And, my advice to everyone is “All foods fit in a healthy meal plan when we incorporate balance, variety, and moderation.” Balance means eating foods from every food group, variety means eat a variety of foods from each food group, moderation is how much and how often.
As you look forward to a new year of eating healthfully, I hope that these guidelines are helpful. And, if you need more help, please make an appointment! I’d love to help you meet your nutrition goals.
Debra Loder, RDN – WCH