Your Practice Transformation Companion

Monday, March 3, 2014

Get the Most Nutrition for your Calories

Guest Blogger: Rachel Brown, RD, MBA, Care Manager at MedNetOne

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is, "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right." This idea encourages personalized healthy eating styles and recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions, and health concerns all impact individual food choices.

We know that taste tops nutrition as the main reason why consumers choose one food over another. Social, emotional, and health factors play a role as well, but the fact remains that the foods that taste the best are the ones we eat the most. This year’s goal is to combine taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that follow the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines and still taste great.

The best way to enjoy the taste of eating right is to eat nutrient rich foods that provide the most nutrition for your calories. But a calorie is not only a calorie. Consider white bread and wheat bread; both have the same calories. However, wheat bread is rich in fiber, which will keep you feeling full for longer. Now think about 1 ounce of potato chips and one ounce of almonds. Both are around 160 calories but almonds have more than double the Vitamin E, and protein while having only ½ of the saturated fat of potato chips! Nutrient rich foods and beverages provide vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and other essentials that offer health benefits with relatively few calories.

You can add nutrient rich foods into your diet by making some small adjustments. Try adding fruit or nuts to your morning oatmeal or cereal. Make your sandwiches on whole grain wheat bread and add avocado slices, sliced cucumber, sprouts, or tomato. Drink low sugar beverages, or learn to create your own flavored water. Cut and bag fruits and veggies so they are ready for you to grab when you are really hungry and need something quick. Enjoy fruit based desserts like blended frozen fruits, or low fat yogurt parfaits.

The healthiest approach to planning a balanced diet is to start with the foods we should be adding to our plates not the ones we need to take away! So, follow the healthy eating plate, ( and include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, low fat dairy, beans, seed, and nuts. When we eat this way we get all the nutrients our bodies need, thus improving our energy, mood, and overall health. Believe it or not you will even feel more satisfied! And trust me, your body will thank you.  

You should enjoy the foods you eat. Healthy eating should be balanced, simple, and stress free. A registered dietitian can help you with this. RD’s play a critical role in helping people eat right, their way, everyday. You don’t have to give up everything you love. But you will find by making an effort to eat nutrient dense foods you will be limiting added sugars and reducing the major sources of solid fat in your diet.

Remember to read nutrition labels, check serving sizes, and read ingredient lists. You could easily use up your whole day’s worth of calories on a few high calorie low nutrient items, but you won’t get the full range of vitamins and nutrients your body needs. And chances are you will actually feel hungrier. Food should fuel your body not slow it down! Learn how to love the foods you need for good health, and savor your flavors, and enjoy the taste (and feeling) of eating right!