4 Ways to Prioritize Health During National Nutrition Month
Most of us understand the importance of maintaining a nutritious diet. Motivating yourself to stick to healthy eating habits is where it gets tricky.
For National Nutrition Month, we’re encouraging our community members to take action to improve their diets. This year’s theme, Personalize Your Plate, urges the importance of customizing your diet to fit your tastes while still building healthy eating habits.
Hailey Meert, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Cameron Memorial Community Hospital, encourages her patients to view modifying their diets as an incremental process. You don’t have to change all of your eating habits at once, she said. In fact, you can tailor your tastes to meet your nutritional needs.
“It shouldn’t be a scary process for the patient,” Meert said. “When I begin to work with a new client, I create a plan that’s personalized and catered to their individual needs. In the end, it’s all about finding areas where they can make small changes, so it isn’t viewed as a ‘diet’ but more as a lifestyle change and a choice.”
Meert provides specialized nutrition advice and works with patients to develop plans and guide them through the process of modifying their diets. She consults with patients in a one-on-one setting and tailors education and goals to the patients’ individual needs.
To start off, Meert recommends patients follow a handful of simple steps.
1. Be aware of what you’re consuming.
It’s easy to get swept up in your day and completely lose sight of what you’re eating. When you lose track of what you’re eating, it’s easy to skip meals and replace them by eating too many unhealthy snacks and overly processed foods. Keeping an eye on food labels and managing your portion control is an important first step toward a better diet, Meert said.
2. Add color to your plate.
The easiest way to maintain a well-rounded diet and get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need is by eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Focus on filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. It’s OK to avoid certain vegetables you don’t like but substitute them with another veggie from the same color group. For example, if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, add asparagus or broccoli in its place.
3. Drink plenty of water.
Water intake is an essential part of a healthy diet. Drinking water helps prevent dehydration, which can lead to unclear thinking, poor health and decreased energy. Meert recommends patients aim for at least eight glasses of water per day, which adds up to 64 fluid ounces.
4. Limit refined carbs as much as possible.
Carbohydrates fuel the body, but not all carbs are the same. Refined carbs, which are often found in sugary cereals and highly processed foods, provide fewer nutrients than complex carbs. Complex carbs include whole grain foods, beans, legumes, and vegetables.
Cameron Memorial Community Hospital is home to a robust dietetics program. We provide treatment for patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, education during cancer treatment, education during cancer treatment, and individuals looking for weight management help. Our services are available to patients of all ages.