The Ottumwa Courier


March 17, 2010

Nutrition from the ground up

OTTUMWA — March is designated as National Nutrition Month by the American Dietetic Association. It’s a great time of the year to review your eating habits and learn something new about good nutrition. That’s where your registered dietitian can help.

A healthy lifestyle decreases many risk factors for disease and helps you feel great. Unfortunately, most people have trouble figuring out what to do without planning a complete diet makeover. Start with the basics so you can build your nutritional health from the ground up.

• Focus on fruits and veggies: Fruits and vegetables are the foods that should be eaten most often. For most people, this means more than doubling the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat daily. Try adding a serving each day to one meal and increase the amount every few weeks.  For example, when you eat pizza, also have a tossed salad and fruit for dessert instead of eating only several pieces of pizza.

• Make calories count: Think nutrient-rich rather than “good” or “bad” foods. When you choose foods packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients they will also be lower in calories. Be aware of portion sizes. A simple place to start is to make a change is to eat 2/3 the amount that you normally eat. Also, slow down and enjoy every bite of food. “Mindless” eating tends to add hundred of calories.

• Make the most of family mealtime: Eating meals together provides the opportunity to help children develop a healthy attitude toward food. It also helps parents to serve as role models, introduce new foods and establish a regular meal schedule.

• Keep moving: 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. Every move counts, so get out there with the entire family and build a family exercise program. My philosophy is that “doing something is better than nothing,” so even 10-minute walks are better than sitting on the couch.

• Make only one change at a time: Studies show that when you make only one change at a time you’ll be more successful. Many people try to change too much too fast and then give-up. Your current habits didn’t start overnight and they are not going to change overnight.

By starting slowly and giving yourself a good foundation, you too can work towards a healthier lifestyle. Contact a registered dietitian for more information to help you live an easier, healthier and happier life.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee North in Ottumwa. She can be reached via e-mail at:

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