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Healthy Eating for a Healthier You

Healthy Eating for a Healthier You

March is National Nutrition Month, a great time for a few reminders about healthy eating as a way to prevent and manage chronic disease. In fact, good nutrition is key to good health, but eating well can be a challenge. Valley Health has a number of registered/clinical dietitians who work with patients to make sure they are well-nourished. They also offer guidance and support to those managing chronic disease or navigating special diets.

A poor diet can contribute to a variety of serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity and arthritis.

To stay healthy, you should eat a balanced diet and limit your intake of foods and beverages high in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit your consumption of alcohol.

However, dietitians often find there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating patients nutritionally.

“It’s hard to give one answer for treating weight or health issues,” says clinical dietitian Katherine Sellors, RD, with Valley Health Wellness Services. “It’s based on individual needs. It’s about each patient and seeing what’s going to work for them.”

Diabetes Prevention

Diet and exercise are extremely important in diabetes prevention.

“Those two things go hand in hand in preventing Type 2 diabetes,” says clinical dietitian Jane O’Doherty, RD, MPH, CDCES, Valley Health Diabetes Management Program.

Losing 5-7% of your body weight, exercising 150 minutes a week at moderate intensity, and eating healthy foods contribute to decreasing your chance of developing diabetes by 58%, according to the CDC.

In addition, eating breakfast, not binging on food, tracking your weight, getting enough sleep, focusing on when you’re full, decreasing TV time, and avoiding sugary drinks can also help reduce illness.

A Colorful Plate and Exercising

Valley Health clinical dietitian Magda Bullock, RD, who works at both Shenandoah Memorial and Page Memorial hospitals, says she tries to help patients make good choices the best they can in their environment.

Bullock says she assists patients with eating healthy and “building their plates,” half of which should be “built” with food of color (greens, reds, yellows).

“Natural, simple foods are best,” Bullock says, including vegetables and sweet and white potatoes. “There’s a misconception that it’s too expensive to eat healthy, and that’s just not true. You can buy beans, frozen vegetables, potatoes and more on a modest budget.”

Bullock also advocates everyone exercise, even if it’s only for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. “Sometimes we have to start at just 5 minutes, especially for those who are not so active,” she says.

Limiting Sodium and Saturated Fats for Heart Health

A healthy diet involves:

  • Getting enough fiber
  • Limiting saturated and trans fat found in red meats, cheeses, butter, mayonnaise and more, and
  • Eating unsaturated fatty acids that come in the form of beans, fish, nuts and poultry

Patients should also be mindful of their sodium consumption since many processed, convenience foods, such as Ramen noodles, already contain a lot of salt.

“Seventy percent of what people consume in sodium intake is already in their diet,” says Sellors. “It’s not just about using a salt shaker.”

Need help with making healthy choices? Numerous resources are available at Valley Health:

Did this post make you hungry? Click here for two healthy - and yummy - recipes recommended by Valley Health Registered Dietitians!