National Nutrition Month is recognized each March as a time to bring awareness to the importance of proper nutrition. Meredith Yorkin, Registered Dietitian with the Center for Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolism at Pascack Valley Medical Center, tells us how patients are taught about proper nutrition and shares tips on how you can maintain a nutritious lifestyle.
“At the Center for Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolism, I tell our patients that you don’t have to wait until you have an illness to overhaul your diet,” said Yorkin. “Prevention is important and is a major focus for us. Even if you have an illness, we can work on preventing other co-morbid illnesses from developing. If your sweet tooth is a problem, we can find healthy dessert options to keep your cravings at bay. We like to focus on the fact that eating healthy is a lifestyle, not a trendy diet.”
Timing of meals and portion control is a major emphasis.
“We want you to focus on the meal itself and the timing of the meals,” said Yorkin. “Your lifestyle has an impact on how you eat and when you are eating. We work with our patients to learn about their schedules, what their family life is like and who else will be eating the foods that they are preparing. Once we know these things, we are able to create a plan that caters to their lifestyle.”
Yorkin also encourages everyone to practice the following habits.
MyPlate provides an image of what your plate should ideally look like at all three meals. It is divided into five sections. Half of the plate is for fruits and vegetables, the other half is for carbs and protein and the fifth section is for low-fat dairy that can come in the form of a cup of milk, yogurt or a low-fat cheese. Abiding by MyPlate will help you control your portions and limit the amount of proteins and carbs you consume, as those tend to be the main things people overeat.
Focus on Drinking Water
The average individual should be drinking at least six to eight cups of water a day. Try to reduce the amount of sugary beverages you drink. If you want to drink something other than water, choose a low-fat milk.
Be Cautious of Trends
Smoothies and juices are popular, trendy foods that people associate with being super healthy. While these do contain healthy ingredients, they can be loaded with carbs and calories and can lead to overconsumption of certain food groups. If you do want to drink a smoothie or juice, make sure there is no more than one cup of fruit and that it contains some type of protein. Include vegetables like zucchini, spinach or kale, which contain protein and fiber that will help you stay fuller longer.
If you know you’ll be traveling or going a longer period of time without eating, prepare healthy snacks in advance. Reach for fruits that are easy to carry like apples, bananas, oranges, blueberries and grapes. Don’t forget to include some time of protein like lightly salted nuts or a string cheese.
Be Mindful When Eating Out
Keep MyPlate in mind when eating out. Meals at restaurants or special events don’t always include vegetables. If you’re ordering an entrée and it doesn’t include a non-starchy vegetable, order a side dish of steamed broccoli, spinach or a small salad. Focus on filling up on those vegetables first.
The first Nutrition Consultation at the Center for Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolism is free. To make an appointment or to learn more about, call 201-781-1375.