Expert Nutrition Advice for Informed Choices

March is National Nutrition Month®, a time when communities across the nation focus on the significance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating habits.

Cathy Keller, RDNCathy Keller, RDN, CD, CDCES, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Door County Medical Center (DCMC), shares the vital role of nutrition in healthcare and everyday life, as well as the importance of seeking evidence-based dietary advice. Keller's experience in providing outpatient medical nutrition therapy at DCMC spans a variety of conditions, from diabetes and elevated cholesterol to chronic kidney disease and intestinal issues like Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Keller emphasizes a balanced and sustainable approach to nutrition, steering clients away from the "all or nothing" mindset toward moderation and gradual changes. "Many people seem to want to wait for the perfect scenario to make changes in their food choices," she explains. "They don't realize that small changes can make a big impact on their overall health."

With a focus on realistic and achievable goals, Keller and her colleagues empower clients to make lasting changes in their eating habits. "The ultimate win is if I can offer suggestions to modify someone's food intake so that medication is not needed for their condition," says Keller.

For those ready to take steps towards better health, DCMC offers specialized nutrition programs as well as comprehensive diabetes education, the latter led by Keller and Kendall Lecloux, RN.

DCMC nutrition programs include:

  • Lifestyle Nutrition Coaching. This is a great option for those who have been diagnosed with prediabetes and would like one-on-one sessions. Lifestyle Nutrition Coaching is designed to support people interested in improving their health and well-being through diet."We teach you the skills to make informed decisions about the day-to-day management of your unique health needs," says Keller.

  • Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT). Medical nutrition therapy is a therapeutic approach to treating medical conditions, specifically diabetes, and kidney diseases, using an individually tailored nutrition plan devised and monitored by a registered dietitian nutritionist. Individuals meet to review their current eating habits and health history and work with the dietitian in setting nutrition goals to improve their health.

  • Diabetes Self-Management Training. This option is tailored for individuals diagnosed with diabetes and encompasses comprehensive disease management, including glucose monitoring, medication management, and nutrition.

Looking for nutrition advice outside of the clinic? Know your source.

Nutritionist with healthy food"While we always advocate for consulting one of our registered nutritionist dietitians or participating in one of DCMC's programs, we understand that accessing formal nutrition guidance may not always be feasible, especially with the availability of online resources," admits Keller.

That said, in an era inundated with conflicting nutrition information, Keller emphasizes the importance of seeking evidence-based guidance from reputable sources such as The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and The American Diabetes Association. "There's a lot of confusing and conflicting nutrition information on the internet," she cautions. "Anybody can call themselves a 'nutritionist', and in most states that 'title' is not regulated. Always check the credentials of the source."

Keller advises against falling for fad diets or taking radical measures, opting for manageable modifications instead. "I never recommend extremism like NO carbs or NO sugar," she notes. "That's just not a solution that people can maintain long term." Instead, she advocates for smaller, sustainable changes over time, such as portion control and recipe modifications for lower fat or sugar content.

To assist individuals in their journey toward healthier eating, Keller shares three practical tips endorsed by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Healthy foodsMake Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and veggies add color, flavor, and texture plus vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables your daily goal—experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen, and canned.

  • Drink More Water: Quench your thirst with water instead of drinks with added sugars. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, especially if you are active, an older adult, or live or work in hot conditions.

  • Explore New Foods and Flavors: Add more nutrition and eating pleasure by expanding your range of food choices. When shopping, make a point of selecting a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain that's new to you or your family. "Periodically, try foods you may not have liked in the past, as our taste buds change," adds Keller.

It's important to note that making dietary changes doesn't mean sacrificing enjoyment. "Many people think that a dietitian is going to take away everything they love to eat," she says. "That's just not what dietitians do!"

For Keller, seeing her clients experience the positive effects of small, sustainable changes is deeply fulfilling. "I love seeing the 'light go on' for a person when they realize 'I can do this!'" she shares. "It's not as overwhelming as they first thought."

DCMC encourages individuals to take charge of their health through informed dietary choices. Are you ready to make a change? Connect with one of our certified professionals today by calling 920-746-0510.

Published 3/19/2024 1:53:33 PM
Tags: diet, healthy eating, news

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