Does thinking about improving your eating habits overwhelm you? You’re not alone. With so much nutrition information available on television shows, commercials, magazines and the internet, it can be confusing. Your VA registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) can help. RDNs are the nutrition experts who translate the science of nutrition into practical daily solutions.
March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, “Eat Right, Bite by Bite,” reminds us to set small, achievable, healthy eating goals. You are encouraged to return to the basics of healthful eating, which can help boost your confidence and motivation to make additional changes over time. Small changes can have a significant impact on your overall health.
What changes have you been thinking about making? If you have a long list and you’re not sure how to begin, here are a few tips to get started.
- What foods and beverages make me feel most energized versus least energized? Do I eat enough fruits and vegetables?
- Do I make half of my grain choices whole grains?
- Am I eating a lot of sweets or drinking too many sugary beverages?
- Do I tend to eat too fast and/or not chew my food thoroughly?
- Do I have health conditions, such as high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver, pre-diabetes, diabetes, kidney disease or high cholesterol? If so, meeting with a PACT or MOVE! RDN can help you identify specific changes to manage your condition.
As an outpatient RDN, I help Veterans set achievable goals every day. Here are a few success stories:
- G. buys a crudité (raw vegetable) platter and snacks from it during the week instead of eating potato chips.
- R. is watching his salt intake. His wife loves pretzels and doesn’t want to stop buying them. He puts the pretzels in opaque containers and keeps them out of sight so he isn’t tempted. Instead, he snacks on fruit or low-sugar yogurt.
- B. now eats one cookie instead of three with his lunch. He also packs a few pieces of fruit from home each day during the work week.
- D. was very concerned about his blood sugar levels. He has significantly cut back on fruit juice and regular sodas in favor of water and seltzer. He is hopeful that he will eventually eliminate sugary beverages altogether. His next goal is to order measuring cups so he can portion out his carbohydrates.
- B. started off barely eating any vegetables. Now he tries to have at least one cooked vegetable or salad with most of his dinner meals. Some days he has both a salad and cooked vegetable at dinner!
Healthy Teaching Kitchen on YouTube
Many RDNs offer same day or walk-in appointments, as well as telephone or group classes for diabetes or weight management. Your VA may offer VA Video Connect to visit the dietitian through a smartphone or tablet.
Our Healthy Teaching Kitchen program shows Veterans how to prepare healthy foods through cooking demonstrations or hands-on experiences. One resource is the VA YouTube channel. Let an RDN help you improve your eating habits today and make every bite count.