As the nation’s food and nutrition experts, registered dietitians work in a variety of settings as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition information, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.

You can be sure that nutrition information coming from a registered dietitian is timely and accurate, and takes into account the most recent evidence-based research. In addition, many dietitians have the counseling skills to provide personalized nutrition education, taking into account the individual human differences each client may have. One diet does not fit all; and the RD is skilled in determining what diet and nutrition parameters should be recommended based on an individual’s lifestyle and diet and medical history.

So, with today designated as the second annual Registered Dietitian Day, commemorating the dedication of RDs as advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world, I asked local RDs for their best “taste-bite” of advice for the community at large. I hope you will find their responses helpful to your personal nutrition goals.

Wendi Connelly, RD, LDN, director of Nutrition Services at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Erie:

“Make one positive food-related change you can feel good about for one month: Add one glass of water to your day, include one additional vegetable choice to your day, try a new food every month.”

Kristin Afrasiabi, RD, LDN, MSN, CRNP, Meadville, consultant dietitian at Crawford County Care Center, consultant Nurse Practitioner:

“Don’t get bogged down by all of the confusing day-to-day news reports of which foods are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you. Focus on the basics that never change: Eat sensibly by choosing a variety of foods in moderate quantities to maintain your best weight. Your grandparents and parents were right when they told you to ‘Eat your vegetables.’ Try to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. And don’t forget to incorporate exercise into your daily routine since good nutrition and exercise go hand-in-hand toward maintaining your health, fitness and a sense of well-being.”

Ann Curtis, MS, RD, LDN, DuBois, private practice in wellness, medical nutrition therapy and long-term care:

“Eat mindfully. That is, when you eat, just eat; don’t read, watch TV or drive. This helps us tune in to satiety and hunger. Secondly, at each meal, choose from as wide a range of food groups as possible for balance.”

Shelly Frndak, MS, RD, LDN, Meadville:

“‘Eating right’ is about choices. Two choices that families can make to help place everyone on the path toward healthy living are eating family dinners together at home and buying more local foods. According to research out of Harvard and the University of Minnesota, families who frequently eat together consume higher amounts of calcium, fiber, iron, vitamins B6, B12, C, E and A, compared to families who do not eat together. Children who eat with their parents (minus the TV and ‘texting’) consume more fruits and vegetables and fewer snacks than children who eat alone. In addition to improving the nutritional quality of food choices, eating together tends to be associated with better scholastic performance, decreased weight control practices, decreased substance abuse and more positive attitudes about the future. Making the choice to eat together is simple, yet expands the decision to eat right beyond oneself to the entire family or friends and neighbors.”

Frndak offers some of the benefits of choosing local foods:

n You can keep family meals simple and boost their nutritional value by incorporating more local foods into your menu planning.

n Foods generally lose their vitamin and mineral content as they age. Buying fresh foods translates into less time from harvest to table and thus better nutritional quality.

n Purchasing food grown by local farmers supports the economy of our community. Our food dollars are given to our neighbors not large corporate operations.

n Local food travels shorter distances and requires less packaging than commercial food. This reduces overall waste and pollution, thus improving our environment.

Rosanne Rust, MS, RD, LDN, Meadville:

“Balance and moderation remain keystones to good health, but not in complete sacrifice of enjoyment. Enjoy your diet, but with an emphasis on health. Incorporate one healthy food or habit at a time. Nourish your body well, stay active and have fun. Eating shouldn’t be a bore or a chore, but we should focus on the basic food groups for meals and snacks, then allow those splurges once in a while, without guilt.”

Rust, a licensed, registered dietitian who has a private practice in Meadville, also writes a nutrition column the second Tuesday of each month for the Tribune. For more information, visit her Web page at or contact her at

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