Dietitian offers advice for healthy meals

| August 1, 2013 | 0 Comments


New guidelines demonstrate how to fill your plate

1st Lt. Beatriz George
Reynolds Army Community Hospital

FORT SILL, Okla. — As a registered dietitian for Reynolds Army Community Hospital, people often ask me what they should eat, even asking me to tell them exactly what their meals should be.

So they are often frustrated when my response to them is “it depends.” By that I mean it depends on many different factors, because we all come from different walks of life, different ages and different health statuses.

Veggies_Fruits_sb10062327o-001_wAs a nutritionist, my role is to support patients in achieving their health goals, whether it be controlling blood sugar levels, preventing heart disease or just losing a couple extra pounds. Not one approach gives nutritional advice that fits everyone.

Although there is no one right way to eat, there are some basic dietary guidelines we can all follow when planning mealtimes, food shopping and eating in any environment to help us all make good choices for a healthier lifestyle.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, providing proven nutrition information and advice for people ages 2 and older.

These guidelines serve as the basis for federal food and nutrition education programs.

Recently, the USDA replaced the old Food Guide Pyramid with the My Plate model to provide the public with user-friendly guidelines that can translate directly to foods people put on their plates.

To follow are some easy ways to start getting your plate in shape:

•Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients vital for health, such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories. Include fruit at any meal, as a topping for cereals and salads, or as a snack between meals.

Cook fresh, frozen or canned vegetables in the microwave for a quick and easy dish to add to any meal.

Milk_Yogurt_Cheese_78458105_w•Go lean with protein. Choose lean or low-fat cuts of meat (loins, greater than 90 percent lean ground meats, skinless poultry), deli meats (turkey, roast beef, ham) and other protein foods (beans, nuts, tofu).

Use lean meat preparation steps: trim or drain fat; remove poultry skin; broil, grill, roast or poach meats; and prepare meats without added sauces or gravies.

•Get your calcium-rich foods. Choose fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk and dairy products (yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese). They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrient as full-fat versions, but have fewer calories and less saturated fat, which can raise LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol.

Pair your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt.

•Make at least half the grains you eat whole grains. Read the ingredients list and choose products that name a whole-grain ingredient first. Look for whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, whole oats, whole rye or wild rice.

Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the fiber content of whole-grain foods. Good sources of fiber contain at least 2.5 grams of dietary fiber, while excellent sources contain 5 grams or more. Substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product, such as eating 100 percent whole wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice.

Whole_Grains_78430474_wReaching nutrition and fitness goals cannot be achieved in a day; it will take time and patience. However, these small steps can help people get started on the path toward healthier and more active lives.

So when people ask what should they eat, the response is simple: more whole fruits and vegetables, lean meats for protein, fat-free and low-fat dairy foods, and more whole grains.

These recommendations are more nutritious, less expensive and more filling, with fewer calories than highly processed foods that dominate much of the space of a retail grocery store.

On the Web

For more information, ideas and tips on healthier eating, visit

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Category: Community, Health

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