DR. ARVIND DHOPLE NUTRITION TIPS: Don’t Count Calories, Just ‘Eat Better’

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March is National Nutrition Month

First celebrated in 1973, National Nutrition Month is meant to make Americans more aware of what they eat. This nutrition education tradition reminds us of the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating habits.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – There is a National Month for everything, but several “days” claim March as their month – St. Patrick’s Day, Pi Day, National Puppy Day, the first day of spring. All those and more make March one of our favorite times of the year, but we also love it because we get to celebrate National Nutrition Month.

First celebrated in 1973, National Nutrition Month is meant to make Americans more aware of what they eat. This nutrition education tradition reminds us of the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating habits.

For many people “eating better” is an intimidating and abstract concept. What counts as healthy? Is calorie counting necessary? Is all junk food off limits?

These confounding questions are familiar to many people, but improving your nutrition doesn’t always have to mean a diet dilemma and overhaul. In fact, sometimes small changes can make the biggest impact.

In honor of National Nutrition Month this March, here are five quick and easy diet tips endorsed by registered dietitians that will put you on the path to better health:

Embrace Fats: Most people think all fats can negatively impact health. But in reality, unsaturated fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, i.e. omega-3 fatty acids – are known as the “good fats” and have been shown to reduce inflammation and aid in heart health.

Some great options to incorporate into your meals and snacks include nuts, seeds, avocados, fish (like salmon) and vegetable oils, like olive and canola. (Stephanie Perruzza, registered dietitian and health and wellness at KIND Snacks)

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Eat More Plants: About 95 percent of Americans don’t consume enough fiber. Veggies, fruits and whole grains are the best way to do this. It’s often easier to focus on what we can add in versus take away, so this is a great way to shift the mindset and focus on something positive.

People should ultimately aim for seven to ten servings of fruits and vegetables each day. That may seem like a lot, but it’s actually very doable if you are including vegetables and fruits at each meal. (Mascha Davis, Los Angeles-based registered dietitian)

Don’t Cut Carbs: Have a healthy-meaning fiber-containing – carbohydrate at all meals. It seems that lots of people who choose carb-free meals, like a green salad with chicken for lunch, are left feeling low-energy, distracted and craving a cookie soon after.

People need carbs to replenish their blood sugar levels and keep them alert. So, the specialists always recommend making sure to have at least a small portion of sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, etc. with their meals to make sure they are getting the nutrients their bodies need to function. This is especially important for people who exercise often and burn through their blood sugar reserves regularly. (Matt Priven, Boston-based registered dietitian)

Eat all meals and snacks from a plate while seated at the table. This naturally helps people to eat less and enjoy it more.

Sit Down When You Eat: Eat all meals and snacks from a plate while seated at the table. This naturally helps people to eat less and enjoy it more. Practicing not eating while standing in front of the fridge, driving in a car, working at the computer or watching TV helps to stay more mindful about what and how much is being consumed. It’s a small behavior tweak that can naturally impact portions and enjoyment. (Dawn Jackson Blatner, Chicago-based registered dietitian)

Listen To Your Body: The one tweak most all nutritionists wish everyone could make is to eat while better listening to their bodies using what they call the “Hunger Quotient,” a 1 to 10 scale for hunger, with a goal of staying between four and six.

It can be a challenge to learn, but as soon as you can get the hang of truly listening to your body’s hunger cues, making better food and eating decisions every day, and maintaining a healthy weight by living a nutritious lifestyle rather than following an ultra-strict diet becomes second nature. (Keri Glassman, New York City-based registered dietitian)

Dr. Arvind Dhople is currently Professor Emeritus at Florida Tech and a free-lance writer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Arvind Dhople graduated from the University of Bombay and then joined Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, first as a postdoctoral fellow and then Asst. Professor. In 1980, he joined Florida Tech as a Professor and Director of their Infectious Diseases Lab. His specialty is microbial biochemistry and he performed research in leprosy and tuberculosis. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and has published nearly 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has also served as an advisor to the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, German Leprosy Relief Association, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus at Florida Tech and a free-lance writer. 

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