March 19, 2010


COLUMBIA, Tenn.— A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but for many people choosing to eat better can be difficult without knowing where to start. During National Nutrition Month, Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) reminds the community that an easy way to overhaul your diet is to start with the basics.

“Small changes in eating habits make a big difference,” says Cindy Dugger, chief dietitian and at MRMC. “Set one or two realistic goals to improve your diet and modify those goals over time.”

Dugger recommends basic ways to improve your nutrition:

  • Focus on fruits and vegetables. Most people do not eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. Add one serving to each meal and increase it every few weeks. Adding more of these foods into your diet is important whether you buy frozen or fresh.
  • Make calories count. Many people think of foods as either good or bad. When you’re choosing between options, focus instead on the one with more of the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. Sometimes foods with fewer calories aren’t always the healthiest options.
  • Try new foods. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. While these are the basics, be willing to try new things and find new favorites. By testing yourself, you might find new healthy items you enjoy to add to your regular grocery list.
  • Look locally. With spring approaching, try finding fresh options within the community. Farmer’s markets and locally-grown options are a great way to eat well and support the community at the same time.
  • Trick yourself with treats. A healthy diet doesn’t mean total deprivation. Treat yourself to a dessert of fruit and yogurt or a snack of trail mix or nuts. There is no reason to go hungry just because you’re sticking to a healthy diet.

“It is easier to take advantage of healthier options if you develop an eating strategy ahead of time. Planning is key,” said Dugger. “Keep focused, and remember that eating right, along with exercising, helps keep a person physically and mentally healthy and can help in managing stress.”