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MORE THAN FOOD:
The Dish from Our Dietitians
Nourishing your family and helping them feel their best is a crucial part of serving our customers at Big Y. We want the food you get from us to inspire, excite and encourage you to make nutritious choices. To do just that, we have had our own team of registered dietitians for over fifteen years. Haven’t met them yet? Check out the Q&A below to get to know the ways they can help you live a healthy, happy life.
Carrie Taylor, RDN, LDN, KYT
Andrea Luttrell, RDN, LDN
What do you wish more people knew about nutrition?
Carrie: Your general nutrition is simply a snapshot of what you tend to eat most often— not the every now and then treats. Aim for at least 80%-90% with a variety of foods that are rich in nutrients with the rest simply being consumed for taste and/or emotional enjoyment.
Andrea: It doesn’t have to be complicated! Keep it simple with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein foods and dairy.
What is your most asked nutrition-based question?
Carrie: “How do I lose weight?” Answer: Incorporate more low-calorie, water-rich, plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits into meals and exercise every day.
Andrea: We tend to get a lot of questions about milk and which type is best. Our recommendation is always good-ol’ cow’s milk—lowfat or fat-free. If avoiding dairy, soy milk is another great alternative.
What can people do to help beat the winter blues?
Carrie: Exercise. Whether it’s doing yoga in your jammies or taking a snowy walk in the woods—moving your body is an incredible way to melt the stress of your day while improving mood.
Andrea: Spend time with family and friends. Socialization is an important part of happiness, so make plans with people you love—especially during the winter months.
What do you tell people when they’re feeling discouraged?
Carrie: First, that I hear what they’re saying and understand the sentiment. We are all human and many of us are working toward changing our own lifestyle behaviors— dietitians included! Change is not a straight path, there are a lot of steps forward and steps backward as we zig zag toward success. If you feel discouraged, let that feeling help narrow your focus instead of making you feel shameful or like a failure.
Andrea: That’s right. Each day is a new beginning and it’s important to be kind to yourself. If feeling discouraged about weight loss in particular, remember that weight gain doesn’t happen overnight and neither will weight loss. It can also be helpful to find an accountability partner—someone who will walk with you each day or check in to make sure you’re working towards the daily goals you set.
Even taking advantage of our free dietitian-led virtual Eating Behavior Management Support Groups can be empowering so you know you’re not on this wellness journey alone. Visit https://www.bigy.com/livingwell/getsocial to learn more.
How many things should you shift about your nutrition at a time?
Carrie: When it comes to changing anything, slow and steady wins the race. Repetition makes better, or in this case, more likely to become a habit! Focus on one change at a time, until it feels secondary, like a habit, before layering on any additional changes.
A great one to start with? Have A Plant®, specifically a vegetable, with each meal. This Food Group tends to be the one missed by most adults and will provide you with amazing health benefits. Work toward making eating 2 to 3 cups vegetables each day your habit before making any other changes.
Andrea: Yes! Don’t get overwhelmed trying to totally overhaul your meal plan. Small changes make big impacts on health. Decide what’s important to you and set small goals to get to where you want to be. Perhaps it’s swapping one refined grain food for a whole grain option each day, like wild rice in place of white rice for dinner or popcorn in place of chips when snacking. If added sugar intake is where you’d like to focus, start by reducing current portion sizes rather than cutting out favorite foods and beverages completely.
What do I do when I mess up on my diet?
Carrie: Agreed! And, we invite you not to actually “go on” anything- because that means, eventually, you’ll “go off.” Diet is considered a four-letter-word in our world because we understand how unrealistic most of them are for good health and for maintaining. You don’t fail a diet, it fails you. Focus on making small behavior changes over time and you’ll succeed best with much greater likelihood of maintaining your changes.
Andrea: Be kind to yourself! We always encourage people to think about their overall lifestyle or meal plan rather than a “diet” you start and stop or mess up on. If you’re attending a celebration and overindulge more than you planned on, simply take note and move on. One day doesn’t define how healthy you are—it’s the choices you make on a routine basis that impact your overall wellbeing. Look at every new day as an opportunity to make a fresh start!
How do you manage a tough past relationship with food?
Carrie: An unhealthy relationship with food can run the gamut from siloing foods into “good” and “bad” categories, purposely steering clear of specific Food Groups such as fruits or feeling bad about overeating highly palatable foods. This kind of relationship can lead to creating food rules or feeling you need permission to eat certain foods. Instead of thinking you need permission to enjoy foods, recognize that you have the right to eat whatever, whenever and how much you choose.
That said, a clear understanding of what you want when it comes to food may be important to evaluate: Do you want to consistently overindulge until you feel stuffed and uncomfortable? Do you want to visit with friends and deprive yourself with what you eat? Or do you want to make it through meals and get-togethers feeling satisfied while enjoying yourself? Once you know what you’re aiming to accomplish then your path can become easier to navigate.
Andrea: It’s estimated that 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime1. With that said, getting proper care and treatment in order to overcome negative food relationships is necessary rather than trying to handle these struggles alone.
While for some individuals, managing tough past relationships with food can simply involve doing away with “good” food and “bad” food buckets—many people need a multi-disciplinary team to address eating behaviors to work towards positive food relationships. If you or a loved one struggles with disordered eating, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website to learn how you can help.