WALLINGFORD — In a world full of processed to-go food and fad diets, it can be difficult to find healthy options when it comes to mealtime.
The Record-Journal recently sat down with Maryann Meade, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator of nutrition and wellness, at her Oakdale Circle office to talk about affordable ways to eat healthier. Her practice is called Maryann Meade & Associates
According to the latest National Dietary Guidelines from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, about half of the U.S. population has a preventable diet-related illness like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Check with your doctor or a dietician before starting any diet.Organize your plate
According to Meade, a typical meal should follow the USDA’s “My Plate” model which divides food into appropriate portions.
The plate guide was introduced as a replacement for the food pyramid, previously used to group foods by what should be consumed the least and what should be consumed the most.
The plate guide, shaped like a dinner plate, measures portions by individual calorie needs, height, weight, age and physical activity level. The standard plate should be half fruits and vegetables, a quarter protein like beans or poultry and a quarter grains or starch like rice.
“The plate is an easy way for people to think about portions without measuring everything,” Meade said. “This way you’re going to get all the nutrients you need.”Eat fruits and vegetables
Meade said many people she has advised over the years do not eat fruits and/or vegetables every day. She said she often sees people who fill half their plate with protein and devote a smaller portion to fruits and vegetables, or no fruit and vegetables at all.
Depending on the individual, one and a half to two cups of fruit is advised daily, with an additional two to three cups of vegetables.
A cup can be raw or cooked, fresh, frozen, or canned and can be whole or mashed.Be cautious of diets
Meade said she cautions against diets like the Ketogenic diet, a popular trend currently, because they leave out or significantly limit important food groups, like carbohydrates.
“Carbohydrates don’t have as many calories actually as some protein foods do,” she said.
Diets also do not commonly address the underlying problem and eventually people go back to their bad eating habits.
“It’s not just something we do temporarily,” Meade said of eating healthy.
Meade said one of the few diets approved by dietitians like herself is the Mediterranean diet, a food plan that is low in red meat intake, high in healthy fats and includes a lot of fruits and vegetables.Break bad habits
Meade said the biggest obstacle to eating healthy is bad habits.
“You should be finished after dinner, you shouldn’t be eating all night,” she said of a common damaging habit. “That’s where a lot of people get into trouble and they’re not necessarily hungry they’re just bored.”
Meade said popular snacks and drinks like chips and soda shouldn’t be consumed every day.
Meal preparations should be included in weekly routines to prevent getting take-out or fast food.
More information is available by calling Meade at 203-265-9756.