Along with a new year, come new goals.
A top priority for many people is improved health.
Lt. Col. Janetta Blackmore, chief of Nutrition Care Division, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, offers advice for those seeking to make positive changes in 2014 through nutrition.
“As registered dietitians, we are the food and nutrition expert ... we facilitate the learning process with the goal of bridging the gap between fact and fiction,” Blackmore said. “We empower our patients to make smart choices about what they eat and also connections to activity and rest. It’s a package called a ‘healthy lifestyle’ when balance is achieved.”
Healthy eating is an important way to improve health. Choosing meal plans with 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day, reducing total and saturated fats to lower cholesterol levels, and replacing high-fat, sugary snacks with fresh vegetables or whole fruit to decrease total caloric intake can facilitate weight loss and lead to good health, Blackmore said.
Patients often seek a dietitian’s advice following a major health scare, such as a heart attack or stroke, but Blackmore said there is no reason to wait for such an event to move toward a healthier lifestyle.
Still, it is difficult to narrow down a general list of most important aspects of health for all people. Each person will have their own needs, which a registered dietitian can help them address.
“We must look at our current lifestyle and inventory our strengths and weaknesses as it relates to our health,” Blackmore said. “If weight loss is in order then the most important aspect would be decreased caloric intake and increased activity. If blood pressure is high, the spotlight would shift to low-sodium food choices.”
Patients interested in seeing a dietitian at the Army medical center can self-refer for general nutrition issues or receive a referral from their primary care physicians.