Most of us know it's important to eat healthy, but how do you know when your diet could use a makeover? We sat with Premera's Randi Brown, a registered dietitian nutritionist, to discuss this question and more. Here are five reasons to consider help to improve your diet and insights into what to expect when seeking nutritional coaching.
Prevent health conditions from getting worse
If you are concerned that heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure is trending in your family, you can benefit from the coaching of a registered dietician nutritionist. To reduce your risk for developing these chronic conditions, you can work with a nutritionist to prepare meals tailored to your dietary needs. Look for a nutritionist who specifically addresses your health concerns - such as lowering your cholesterol levels and improving blood glucose levels, which can ultimately reduce or eliminate the need for medications.
Meet your fitness goals
Whether you want to hit the snowshoe trails or the slopes this winter, a sports nutritionist can support your training by developing tailored meal plans for your fitness goals. A registered dietician or registered dietician nutritionist has fulfilled a specially designed, accredited nutrition curriculum and many hold graduate degrees, so look for one that's right for your specific nutritional needs at http://www.eatright.org/.
You're starting to feel your age
If you're starting to feel sluggish, seeing poor lab results or your doctor wants you to make changes, a nutritionist can help. A whole food, plant-based diet addresses chronic inflammation in your body, positively impacting your cardiovascular functioning and hormonal balance. Incorporate more fresh foods and vegetables and other “unprocessed foods”, such as whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and healthy fats (olive oil, canola, avocado and flaxseed). Fatty fish and other lean proteins such as chicken should be part of a healthy diet. In addition, eating better will improve your memory and brain function, and may help reduce auto-immune diseases such as arthritis.
Your weight impacts your health and lifestyle
To lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you use, in addition to paying attention to timing of meals and the nutrient content of your diet. This can make it hard to eat right and lose weight on your own. Premera members may get discounts to gyms and weight loss programs, so check your benefits booklet for details, and also check with your employer on any wellness benefits available. Also, if you want a nutritionist who specializes in a specific chronic disease, such as diabetes, Premera's customer support can help you identify a nutritionist.
If certain foods are making you sick
If you suspect that food sensitivities or allergies are contributing to skin or digestive problems, you'd benefit from the help of a nutritionist. The process of eliminating and bringing back certain foods into your diet will help you zero-in on what is causing your health issues. A nutritionist can help you sort through a variety of healthy foods and diets, and identify what's impacting your health. In fact, a nutritionist will even go to the supermarket with you to help you identify the culprits and suggest alternatives to help you break those life-long habits.
Health plan coverage and nutritional tips
Nutritional therapy is a preventive service and Premera members have coverage for nutritional counseling. If you're referred by your primary care doctor in relation to a developing condition, such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease, a nutritionist can work with you to optimize your eating to help prevent and decrease the risk of chronic diseases.
When you go to a nutritionist, they'll want to understand your health history and concerns, as well as food preparation, social situations (such as cultural food preferences) eating habits and preferences and exercise routine. They will work with you analyze your food choices and provide meal plans specific to your goals and lifestyle.
Here are a few healthy eating tips to keep in mind:
- Identify your SAD diet and change it - the “standard American diet” consists of high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, high-fat dairy products, sugar drinks and refined grains. Change to a whole food, plant-based diet with healthy proteins and fats, and drink lots of water.
- Eat the rainbow - a variety of colors on your plate from vegetables and fruits will create the rainbow plate you want. If you're stuck in a fruit rut, try something new such as seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Read food labels - Get smarter about what's in your shopping cart. Carefully look at meat and dairy labels (avoid antibiotics, and opt for hormone-free and grass-fed). Look for foods that are high in fiber, but low in sugar, sodium and saturated fats, and completely avoid trans fats.
- Avoid hidden sugars - avoid processed foods and desserts and added sugars. High blood sugar can lead to diseases like diabetes. Be active daily and be sure to schedule moderately paced exercise into your week. Your muscles use blood sugar and will reduce sugar levels in your blood. Get more tips for reducing sugar.