Kristy Bates, registered dietitian and nutritionist at Aspen Valley Hospital, on how wise and simple dietary decisions can help improve health and physical fitness.
What are some health benefits one might notice right away by eating more nutritious foods?
One of the first things you notice after making changes — such as reducing dietary sugar and fat or increasing antioxidants and fluid intake — is in your overall appearance. Nutrition can have a significant impact on the quality of your skin, hair and nails. Improved dietary choices can also quickly help treat symptoms of digestive discomfort or chronic digestive conditions. In addition, controlling portions, avoiding alcohol, enjoying a balanced breakfast each morning and choosing healthy snacks can boost energy and confidence, prevent mid-day “crashes” and improve concentration.
For many people, diets are hard to maintain for the long term. What are some strategies to keeping healthy resolutions?
Forget dieting. A lot of evidence shows that dieting does not produce long-term health improvement. Diets, especially fad diets, are rarely sustainable and may be detrimental to individuals and their families. I encourage people to make lifestyle changes, eat mindfully and work with a qualified dietitian to set SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely – goals to empower them to become their own behavioral change expert. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. Eat intuitively and rely on hunger and satiety cues to nourish your body.
How can we eat healthier without spending extra money and time?
Healthy foods aren’t necessarily more expensive. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be very affordable, if you become familiar with seasonal offerings. Lower-priced canned and frozen fruits and veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh. Just be sure to read the package’s ingredients list and nutrition fact label to avoid added sugar and excess salt and calories. As far as time goes, you can actually save time once you get in the habit of cooking your own meals rather than eating out. Plus, home-cooked meals are almost always healthier and more affordable than restaurant offerings, and preparing food can be so rewarding!
How can a registered dietitian help individuals improve their health?
A dietitian’s expert advice can focus on prevention or treatment of medical or behavioral conditions. For example, preventive nutritional counseling may focus on athletic performance or healthy aging, while a treatment approach may seek to address concerns with cognitive, digestive or heart health; weight management; food allergies; eating disorders; or medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer.
Tell us about the food workshops you plan to host.
This year, we are ramping up our cooking demonstrations, which will be held on the second Thursday of each month. They will be free to the public and focus on wellness, incorporating whole food recipes, kitchen gadgets and preparation methods. Look for our Dietician Demos newspaper ads, check the AVH website, or contact me or Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Lauren Mitchell at 970.544.1145 to join our mailing list.