Be kind to yourself when changing your diet

This story was originally published in the Winter 2022 edition of Providence St. Mary Medical Health Matters.


In this article:

  • Alyssa Skinner, Dietetics Intern at Providence St. Mary Medical, and Amanda Fenn, Clinical Nutrition Manager, discuss how best to achieve healthy eating goals.

  • The USDA’s MyPlate, version of the food pyramid, remains the best model for easily creating balanced meals.

  • Amanda Fenn discusses her views on popular diets, such as Keto and intermittent fasting.

It’s that time of year when people often think about adopting healthier eating habits. It’s important, however, that you don’t think of your daily food intake as a “diet.” On the contrary, if you decide to make changes, set realistic expectations that match your personal lifestyle and food preferences. We spoke with Alyssa Skinner, Dietetics Intern at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, and Amanda Fenn, Clinical Nutrition Manager at the hospital, about the best way to reach your healthy eating goals.

Reap benefits by making small changes

Can you come up with an overall idea to help people improve their diet?

Many people are looking for quick results and often take an all or nothing approach. Try to think more gradually and celebrate small changes, like remembering to add a cup of vegetables to a meal.

What foods for a balanced meal?

We recommend following My plate, the updated version of the USDA Food Pyramid, breaking down the major groups to easily create a balanced meal. There are five categories: fruits, vegetables, cereals, proteins and dairy products. Do your best to structure each meal so that it is similar to the proportions pictured.

We’ve all heard the phrase “everything in moderation”. How important is it?

People tend to be too strict with themselves. Allow yourself to have a fair share of what you want. If you have a healthy and balanced diet, no food should be prohibited. You can sometimes have this donut.

How can we practice portion control without actually weighing and measuring food?

A major study showed that by simply using a smaller plate, people tend to eat less. The smaller the plate, the larger the amount of food seems. The simple act of buying and using smaller plates and cups can make a big difference in eating less.

What are the most important things to look for on an ingredient label?

The first ingredient listed is the main one, but the second and third ingredients also count.

Paying attention is essential

It is also important to be careful with added sugar and salt. What are the most serious health problems related to a person’s diet?

Heart disease is the most common health problem associated with diet. Many heart disease-related conditions can be improved and then maintained with a healthy diet and the right amount of exercise.

Do you have any thoughts on popular diets like keto or intermittent fasting?

You cannot follow these diets for life because they are not sustainable. Both force your body to burn its reserves, leading to a kind of starvation state. People follow these diets to lose weight fast, but once you start eating normally again, you tend to put the weight back on immediately.

Above all, be compassionate and indulgent with yourself. Everyone slips up. The important thing is to get back on track and stay positive.

Find a doctor

If you need to find a doctor or nutritionist, you can use our supplier directory. Through Providence Express Care Virtualyou can also access a full range of healthcare services. [H3]

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Related Resources

Eat and drink healthy this summer

Answering Men’s Nutrition Questions

Stay strong with good nutrition in the new year

This information is not intended to replace professional medical care. Always follow the instructions of your healthcare professional.

Lance B. Holton