Meadville Tribune

Our Health

March 11, 2014

Enjoy the taste of eating right

It’s National Nutrition Month, and I really love this year’s theme: “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.”

When it comes to eating, enjoyment is important. We eat for a variety of reasons. While it sounds good to say, “only eat when you are hungry,” the fact is that in a land of abundance, we often eat when we are not. This is not always a bad thing, and guilt should never surround any sort of healthy eating.

Sometimes, we confuse healthy eating habits with a healthy diet, and there is lots of disagreement about what the “healthiest diet” is. Some experts feel that a vegan diet (plant-based diet void of all animal products) is the healthiest diet. Others feel a Mediterranean style diet or the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, voted “best diet” by US News and World Report the past two years) is “best.”

Rather than argue about which diet is best, I think it may be much more important to define “healthy eating habits.” “Eating right” involves not just including healthy foods in your diet but also establishing healthy “habits” and “attitudes” toward food and eating. Healthy eating includes eating foods that nourish your body but also eating foods that you enjoy. Since your body functions best when it is provided with calories (energy) and nutrients throughout the day, establishing a regular schedule for eating also helps define “healthy eating habits.”

A healthy diet should include mostly whole foods, lots of plants (fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts), whole grains and small amounts of healthy fats. Other sources of protein can also be included (lean meats, poultry, fish), and you can include some processed grains such as breads, cereals or pasta. Those healthy fats are the ones that come from nuts and seeds, fatty fish and some vegetable oils, but it’s also OK to include some other sources of fat and sugar occasionally (noting that these treats are to be enjoyed in small portions).

Consider adopting these five easy goals to add more joy to eating:

n Ditch guilt. There seems to be a lot of guilt that goes around with eating certain foods. This is counterintuitive to the idea that we can enjoy eating right. Just because you treated yourself to french fries at lunch doesn’t negate all of the healthy foods you did choose through the day or week. Don’t feel guilty — simply enjoy variety, be aware of portions of less-healthy foods and work toward including more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.

n Be mindful. Sometimes your body tells you what it wants. There’s often a reason you crave salt or chocolate. Be mindful of those cues, but make reasonable choices. Also, become more mindful of “mindless eating.” If you find you head for a snack when you are stressed, consider replacing that behavior with a healthier one (take a short walk, have a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea instead). Portion out the food you crave so you have a definite stop point.

n Slow down. This is the followup to mindful eating. Often, we eat too fast without thinking about it. This can lead to both overeating and also a lack of satisfaction. Avoid eating at your desk at work. Even if you don’t have a full hour for lunch, take at least 20 minutes away from your desk. Take time to look at, smell, chew and really taste your food.

n Eat fresh. There’s nothing like a fresh, ripe piece of fruit, eating fresh, crisp salads, freshly sautéed asparagus or freshly breaded chicken. The quality of fresh food is worth spending some money on. Cook some meals from scratch. Bake an easy loaf of banana bread. Enjoy the taste and smells of fresh food. Bring some things home from our local farmer’s markets this spring and cook up something good.

n Don’t eliminate food groups. Recent diet crazes that follow high-protein, wheat-free or gluten-free diets has sent the message to the masses that somehow avoiding certain foods will do you some good (weight loss, control diabetes, better skin, cure cancer, etc.). There’s no scientific evidence at all to back this up. Unless you have a medical diagnosis that supports the need for a gluten-free diet or avoiding grain, dairy, etc., there is no reason to shun these perfectly healthy foods.

Rosanne Rust, a local registered dietitian and author, can be contacted on Facebook by searching Rust Nutrition, on Twitter @rustnutrition, by emailing her at or on her blog at

Text Only
Our Health
  • Don't let a desk job negatively impact your health

    If you’re female, you might want to consider a more physically active career to avoid a variety of cancers.

    July 21, 2014

  • Study focuses on cancer in those who apply pesticides

    This year marks the end of the Agricultural Health Study, a 20-year study of the effects of pesticides on farm workers and their families. Although the study focused on Iowa and North Carolina, there are still some elements that are important for Pennsylvania farmers as well as anyone who handles chemical compounds.

    June 30, 2014

  • Learn to swim and keep drowning at bay

    When you and your family hit the pool or the beach this summer, you need to be aware of a phenomenon known as secondary drowning, or dry drowning.

    June 16, 2014

  • ‘Planting’ the seeds of a better diet this summer

    Summertime is a great time to make improvements to your diet and lifestyle. Despite the conflicting “advice” you may get about diet when reading the popular press (not to mention all of the “food rules”), adding more plants to your diet is always a good idea.

    June 9, 2014

  • Is the idea of drinkable sunscreen worth swallowing?

    Tired of greasy, sticky hands after applying sunscreen? Even the spray-on sunscreens leave you inhaling fumes that you shouldn’t breathe. Well, enter a new era of skincare products: drinkable sunscreen.

    June 3, 2014

  • Survivor stories: Beating cancer with faith and family love

    I recently talked with Rebecca Arbuckle of Meadville to discuss her journey with breast cancer and how she was able to beat it with faith, strength and the love of her family. Although our conversation was upbeat and filled with confidence, there were times that emotion broke through, as it should, for having faced such a battle and won. I am in awe of the people I have had the chance to interview and am honored to share their stories.

    May 27, 2014

  • Uncovering the simple fix to the 'super bug'

    The World Health Organization has identified a serious threat to human health around the globe. Known as a “superbug,” this antimicrobial resistant bacterial infection has been coined “AMR” (Antimicrobial Resistance).

    May 19, 2014

  • Get educated about high blood pressure and eating better

    May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, and one in three Americans have it. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading risk factor for stroke. Hypertension is often referred to as the “silent killer” since you may feel no apparent symptoms. Yet, high blood pressure will cause damage to the blood vessels, brain and heart over time.

    May 13, 2014

  • Researchers: colon cleansing health benefits a myth

    Researchers have found that while colon cleansing has been around since ancient times, the health benefits are basically a myth.

    May 5, 2014

  • Prescription for Medical Nutrition Therapy

    Nutrition is a vital part of being well, and an even more important part to getting well (or healing). It’s a critical part of prevention, yet if I surveyed physicians or lay people, and asked them “Does diet therapy work?” chances are at least 70 percent of them would say “No.”

    April 21, 2014