You’ve probably heard it all before. Maybe the advice has even been so drilled into your head that it’s simply become background noise: Eat your veggies. Choose whole grains. Banish the trans fats…. Et cetera, et cetera. Well, it may all be old news, but the age-old mantra is still true: “You are what you eat.” So, here’s a brief nutrition review, along with a couple of tips on how to begin making changes.            

These are the basics of a healthy eating plan:

  • Look for a rainbow of fruits and veggies. If you choose a variety of colors, you’ll get a variety of nutrients – go for orange veggies and dark leafy greens, for example, along with dry beans and peas such as kidney beans, split peas, or lentils. And for the most benefits, choose whole fruits, not juice. Shoot for 5 to 6 servings each day.
  • Got milk? Aim for 3 servings. A serving is 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 2 cups of cottage cheese, or 1½ ounces of cheese. If you’re lactose intolerant, look for beverages that are free of milk products but are fortified with calcium. Make low-fat and nonfat choices most often.
  • Eat the “whole” thing. Choose whole-grain breads, rice, cereals, crackers or pasta. Three ounces is a good daily goal.
  • Be lean (not mean). Choose 5 ½ to 6 ounces of lean meats and poultry but mix up your protein choices. If you’re a diehard carnivore, remember that protein is found in plants, too. Include fish, nuts, seeds, and beans in your meal plans.
  • Go easy on the extras. The Nutrition Facts label is your friend! Look for foods low in saturated fats, salt (sodium), and added sugars. Nix the trans fats altogether.[1],[2]

Not many of us are great at keeping track of calories and serving sizes. Check out this nifty, new online calculator that does it for you: www.myfoodapedia. Type in the name of a food you want more information about. With one click of your mouse, you’ll see what food group it falls into, how much a serving size is, and how many calories are in a serving. You can also compare it with another similar food. For example, if you’re wondering how your cereals stack up with one another, you can quickly find out. You might be surprised to learn that homemade granola has three times the calories of Grape-Nuts.            

Now, I’m the first to admit that making dietary changes isn’t easy. Rather than trying to change everything at once, choose one change to start with. For example, try adding one more serving of veggies a day. Or, start eating breakfast if you aren’t already. Or switch from snacks with empty calories (soda) to nutrient-rich snacks (an apple with peanut butter). Focus on how much better you feel and how your food choices can improve your overall health.            

If you’ve made diet changes and are still troubled by weight gain, talk with our pharmacy staff. Perhaps a medication could be causing the problem. Your doctor may be able to change your prescription.            

For more information, visit and click on “Health and Wellness.” In the Wellness Library, you’ll find a wealth of information about nutrition – from a guide to organic foods to a look at senior nutrition.

[1] “Inside the Pyramid.”

[2] Eat Right “Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the American Dietetic Association.”