To help achieve the goal of a healthy lifestyle, AND offers the following suggestions:
- Include a variety of healthful foods from all food groups on a regular basis.
- Consider which food items you have on hand before buying more at the store.
- Buy only an amount that can be eaten within a few days (or stored in the freezer) and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
- Be mindful of portion sizes.
- Find activities you enjoy to keep you physically active throughout the week.4
We also have a resource at our fingertips that we often overlook: registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). These professionals are educated specifically to provide counseling on food choices and can help clear the murky waters surrounding nutrition. An RDN can partner with a consumer to develop a safe, effective, sustainable eating plan that takes into consideration health status, lifestyle, and personal taste preferences.
In addition to RDN colleagues, there are trustworthy, easy-to-navigate websites that provide resources on nutrition and healthy eating. They also have tools we can provide to our patients and their families (see box). For example, ChooseMyPlate (www.choosemyplate.gov) is an interactive site based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that provides information on how much of each food group should be eaten each day. It also includes resources for planning well-balanced, healthy meals and a series of fact sheets with tips that can be useful for patients. The National Institutes of Health also offers practical guidance on differentiating a portion from a serving, controlling portion size (both at home and when eating out), and finding alternatives to salt when you want or need to season food.
Reviewing even just one or two of these resources can improve your knowledge about healthy eating habits. Since a balanced and tasty meal plan is a recipe for success, let’s make better nutrition our mantra. We can help our patients, and perhaps learn something ourselves!