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Nutrition Built "From the Ground Up"

March 24, 2010

Washington Hospital Celebrates National Nutrition Month

It’s common knowledge that a well-rounded diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but most people have trouble figuring out what to do when planning a complete diet overhaul.

During National Nutrition Month, the American Dietetic Association and the Washington Hospital Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Department wants to remind everyone that an easy way to focus on eating better is to start with the basics: build your nutritional health from the ground up.

"This year, National Nutrition Month focuses on five main points to help improve our nutrition— putting the emphasis on fruits and vegetables in your diet, looking at local and organic produce, making calories count, testing your taste buds, and tricking yourself with treats," says Maggie Villagomez, R.D., a Washington Hospital registered dietitian. "Washington Hospital is following suit by showing people how to make these ideas a reality."

Each week in March, dietitians have set up tables outside the hospital cafeteria where employees and visitors can come by and learn about nutrition information, try food samples, play nutrition games and talk to a registered dietitian.

"All activities this month center around healthy foods and teaching people which food products are the healthier options when comparing two similar items," says Villagomez. "We have also been offering samples of organic and locally grown produce."

Featured every week at the hospital cafeteria, "Blue Plate Specials" are healthy meals selected by the dietitians to show that low-fat, high-nutrition meals can still be satisfying and tasty. The dietitians also developed a "Sinless Dessert" line that incorporated fruit or whole wheat, and healthy fats with reduced calories.

"National Nutrition Month at Washington Hospital has been a huge success with employees and visitors alike," adds Villagomez. "Healthy eating is a great thing to celebrate, because everyone can benefit from good nutrition."

The key messages of National Nutrition Month should resonate throughout the whole year for all of us, to ensure a healthy and fulfilling life:

  • Start with the basics. Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. A healthy eating plan is also low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
  • Make calories count by thinking nutrient-rich rather than "good" or "bad" foods. Most food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients — and lower in calories. Be aware of portion sizes. Even low-calorie foods can add up when portions are larger than you need.
  • Focus on variety by eating a variety of foods from all the food groups. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, canned or frozen. Look for locally grown produce that’s in season. Vary protein choices with more fish, beans and peas. Include at least three servings of whole grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.
  • Make the most of family mealtime. Eating meals together provides the opportunity to help children develop a healthy attitude toward food. It also enables parents to serve as role models, introduce new foods and establish a regular meal schedule.
  • Balancing physical activity and a healthful diet is your best recipe for managing weight and promoting overall health and fitness. Set a goal to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day.

Washington Hospital Offers Nutrition Counseling
Washington Hospital's Outpatient Nutrition Counseling program is available by appointment to provide nutrition counseling for individuals with specific medical needs as well as those who wish to maintain optimal health. To learn more about the services that are offered, please call (510) 745-6542 or visit our website: www.whhs.com/outpatient-nutrition-counseling.