Although March has ended, and with it, National Nutrition Month, clinical nutritionist Maggie Giunta wants the community to be aware that the Medical Center of Trinity offers year-round classes on heart-healthy nutrition and weight management.
“It’s really just about getting Americans to look at their whole diet approach rather than just focusing on the newest fad,” Giunta said.
Nearly one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Many patients Giunta sees are quick to jump on the latest “lose weight quickly” craze, she said.
But the “key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about short-term dietary changes,” according to the CDC Healthy Weight website. “It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses.”
Giunta and other nutritionists teach participants of the Medical Center of Trinity’s nutrition classes how to eat regular food in a healthy manner. Some diets, such as Weight Watchers, offer pre-packaged meals for calorie and portion control but Giunta warned that many of these contain high levels of sodium.
What people need to focus on is having a well-balanced, reasonably-portioned diet of lean meats, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, more whole grains and a lot of water, Giunta said. Fish and other seafood are also recommended twice weekly.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture website ChooseMyPlate.gov is an online resource that breaks down the different food groups and helps people learn more about how much of various foods can be eaten and how to plan healthy home-cooked meals on a budget.
“One of the biggest things we see is that patients are eating larger portions,” Giunta said. “You can still enjoy your food but eat reasonable portions and half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables.”
The current standard for nutrition taught by doctors and educators comes from the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010,” published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA every five years since 1980. The agencies are revising the guidelines for 2015.
The Medical Center of Trinity hopes to introduce a new class in April, Giunta said. It will focus on tours of grocery stores to show participants how to make healthy choices despite an overabundance of food options.
“We tell a lot of patients what to eat but they get into the grocery store and get overwhelmed,” Giunta said.
For information on the medical center’s free classes, visit http://medicalcentertrinity.com/calendar.