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Timely tips for healthy eating

Making a few small changes can get you on track for a lifetime of healthy eating. Follow these suggestions to start down the right path.

If you’re having trouble eating healthier, Cathy Gill, RD, LD, CDE, a dietitian with T.J. Samson Community Hospital, has a toolbox full of tips for making it easier. She believes even just a little tinkering can help you build a better diet.

Begin at home

According to Gill, a good eating plan starts with gradual changes in the pantry and refrigerator. “You don’t have to throw everything out,” she says. “Just replace items one at a time, as you use them up.” When you’re out of milk, buy low-fat instead of whole. Next time you need veggies, pick up fresh or frozen (with no salt) from the store.

Shop the perimeter

Make your grocery list with a map of the store in mind. “Typically, the healthiest shopping is in the perimeter,” says Gill. “That’s where you find your fresh produce, salt-free frozen vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy.”

Avoiding the center aisles can help you skip the cookies and snacks. But you might have to venture in for one healthy choice—whole-grain items. “Bagels, hamburger buns, English muffins and even some crackers come in healthier whole-grain versions,” Gill notes.

Whatever you buy, Gill recommends learning to decipher food labels. “There’s a lot of information, and all of it pertains to somebody,” she says. “But not all of it pertains to everybody.” So look for the two or three numbers that affect your nutrition goals. “If you’re concerned about weight control, concentrate on portion size and calories. If someone has diabetes, check portion size and carbohydrates.”

Keep it simple

Improving your diet doesn’t have to eat up all your time. “You don’t have to make everything from scratch,” says Gill. For example, she suggests:

  • Buying salad ingredients that are already cleaned and chopped.
  • Choosing frozen, low-salt vegetable mixes to prepare in the microwave.
  • Looking for individually frozen lean meats, which cook in just a few minutes on a tabletop grill.

Get some support

Your Wellness Place (formerly the Educational Resource Center) offers a number of support groups that include information about healthy eating. “We have a diabetes group and a heart group, and they periodically have nutrition presentations,” says Gill. Check the calendar of events on page 8 for a group or class that’s right for you.

Finally, whether you’re revamping your diet to maintain a healthy weight or to reduce your risk of chronic health problems, Gill offers encouragement: “If you didn’t eat as well today as you planned, you can always try to do better tomorrow. Every day is a new day.”

Why not get your fresh fruits and veggies at T.J. Samson’s farmers market? Vendors offer locally grown produce, flowers and plants every Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. in the south parking lot.

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