Healthy Food Choices – One Piece of the Proactive Health Puzzle

Oct 6, 2021 | Tara Schmidt, Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist | @taraschmidt | Comments (19)

Written by Rachel Braun, M.S., RDN, LD. Rachel is a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian. 

Scan the headlines of any popular fitness magazine or online health blog and you are bound to see “proactive health”. Studies suggest that nearly two-thirds of Americans are making an effort to be proactive about their health. But what is the proactive health movement and how does eating well fit into this trend?

Proactive health movement is the public’s increased interest in making changes in lifestyle habits and choices to live well and prevent disease. Being proactive about your health can include changes in diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, dental health and muscle strength and flexibility.

Choosing a healthy diet is one piece to proactive health. The public is being exposed to more channels via the Internet and social media to learn about healthy foods and what that food can do for them. It is important to not get pulled into trendy or restrictive food habits, but rather consider food choices and habit changes that are backed by science.

Here are some tips for focusing on a proactive diet:

  • Eating a balanced diet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming foods from multiple food groups, including whole grains, lean protein, fiber-rich whole fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Consider using the Plate Method, which divides up the plate to ensure appropriate portion sizes of different foods.
  • Taking dietary supplements, when needed and recommended. Individual nutrient needs vary depending upon age and health conditions. Sometimes supplements are needed fill the gap when you are unable to meet need with diet. Always discuss supplements with your health care team.
  • Eating food with added functional benefits. While the government has no legal definition for functional food, referring to the Nutrition Facts Label and ingredients list can help determine if a food is a healthful choice. Functional foods include minimally processed, whole foods. A few examples include antioxidant-rich berries, fatty, omega-3-rich fish like salmon, or unsalted, heart-healthy nuts.
  • Supplementing diet with healthier foods. A good first step is as easy as increasing fruit and vegetable intake. You can start small. Adding just one serving (about one cup) per day is a great start.
  • Eating nutrient-dense foods. This refers to items that contain high volumes of protein, vitamins, minerals, or fiber in a portion. Examples include broccoli (rich in fiber, antioxidants, and low calorie), oranges (high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium), and blueberries (providing antioxidants and phytochemicals).

There are many pieces of the puzzle of proactive health to pursue. Healthy food choices for proactive health don’t need to be flashy, restrictive, or difficult to follow. When it comes to diet choose one piece to work on – like more fruits and veggies – and see how it “fits” into your life. What proactive changes have you made?

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Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Weight Management blog.

so, an "apple" a day does keep the doctor away !!! … blueberries , broccoli , unsalted almonds , tomatoes (is a fruit ?) , wild-caught salmon , I get the picture , and of course APPLES !!!

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@rjwintl

so, an "apple" a day does keep the doctor away !!! … blueberries , broccoli , unsalted almonds , tomatoes (is a fruit ?) , wild-caught salmon , I get the picture , and of course APPLES !!!

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All great examples @rjwintl . Are these items you incorporate into your diet often? I'll admit, I truly do eat an apple a day!

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@taraschmidt

All great examples @rjwintl . Are these items you incorporate into your diet often? I'll admit, I truly do eat an apple a day!

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Yes ,Tara , I do !!! … still like the apple 🍏 the best !!! … bob

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So , Tara , sourdough bread has those special benefits we now know but , what about Oat Bread 🍞???

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@rjwintl

So , Tara , sourdough bread has those special benefits we now know but , what about Oat Bread 🍞???

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Hi @rjwintl – Oats are a very nutrient-dense food! They are high in a specific type of fiber that can even lower cholesterol. If you were looking for an oat bread, I would encourage you to review the ingredients list to ensure it is made with a whole grain flour.. not just have a few pieces of oatmeal sprinkled on top. Make sure that first ingredient says "whole"!

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@taraschmidt

Hi @rjwintl – Oats are a very nutrient-dense food! They are high in a specific type of fiber that can even lower cholesterol. If you were looking for an oat bread, I would encourage you to review the ingredients list to ensure it is made with a whole grain flour.. not just have a few pieces of oatmeal sprinkled on top. Make sure that first ingredient says "whole"!

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Thank you , Tara !!! … you’ve got the inside track on nutrition !!!

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@rjwintl

Thank you , Tara !!! … you’ve got the inside track on nutrition !!!

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btw Tara , as long as you’ve known me , just call me ‘Bob’ !!!

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@rjwintl

btw Tara , as long as you’ve known me , just call me ‘Bob’ !!!

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You got it, Bob! 🙂

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I recently started following this group and am surprised no one has mentioned cutting back on foods with added sugars and eliminating foods/drinks containing artificial sugars.

I have been following modified Keto guidelines since Oct.15th by limiting my daily combined sugars and carbs to 60 grams, and adding in more proteins with unlimited fruits & veggies. Within the first 2-3 days, all my IBS symptoms disappeared including cramps, gas and bloating. After the first week, my arthritis was gone and my energy levels increased. To date and with no exercise except PT for chronic back pain, I have lost 15 pounds.

Yesterday while running errands, I grabbed a large soft drink at a local drive thru — within 30 minutes my gas and bloating returned. By bedtime, I had mild arthritis back in my hands, feet and neck.

Had been so looking forward to ending my “keto diet” after 2 months and having no restrictions for the remaining holidays, but now it looks like all the diet modifications I have Incorporated will end up becoming a permanent lifestyle change.

Although I feel much better physically, am still a little down emotionally thinking about all my favorite food/drinks I won't be eating anymore.

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@tekkie3

I recently started following this group and am surprised no one has mentioned cutting back on foods with added sugars and eliminating foods/drinks containing artificial sugars.

I have been following modified Keto guidelines since Oct.15th by limiting my daily combined sugars and carbs to 60 grams, and adding in more proteins with unlimited fruits & veggies. Within the first 2-3 days, all my IBS symptoms disappeared including cramps, gas and bloating. After the first week, my arthritis was gone and my energy levels increased. To date and with no exercise except PT for chronic back pain, I have lost 15 pounds.

Yesterday while running errands, I grabbed a large soft drink at a local drive thru — within 30 minutes my gas and bloating returned. By bedtime, I had mild arthritis back in my hands, feet and neck.

Had been so looking forward to ending my “keto diet” after 2 months and having no restrictions for the remaining holidays, but now it looks like all the diet modifications I have Incorporated will end up becoming a permanent lifestyle change.

Although I feel much better physically, am still a little down emotionally thinking about all my favorite food/drinks I won't be eating anymore.

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Hi @tekkie3 Welcome! Below are two posts within this group related to sugar and a keto diet. It sounds like you have found some key aspects of your diet that are working well for you! I'm sorry to hear that yesterday was a rough day. Have you seen a registered dietitian yet? It can be so hard to figure out what aspects of your diet changes might be most important, so you don't (ideally) need to feel restricted long-term!!
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/weight-management-1/newsfeed-post/what-the-difference-between-added-sugars-and-natural-sugars/
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/weight-management-1/newsfeed-post/pros-and-cons-of-a-keto-diet/

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@taraschmidt

Hi @tekkie3 Welcome! Below are two posts within this group related to sugar and a keto diet. It sounds like you have found some key aspects of your diet that are working well for you! I'm sorry to hear that yesterday was a rough day. Have you seen a registered dietitian yet? It can be so hard to figure out what aspects of your diet changes might be most important, so you don't (ideally) need to feel restricted long-term!!
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/weight-management-1/newsfeed-post/what-the-difference-between-added-sugars-and-natural-sugars/
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/weight-management-1/newsfeed-post/pros-and-cons-of-a-keto-diet/

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Yes, to a registered dietician and also to a gastroenterologist. I have been diagnosed as having no official foods allergies or intolerances. Although my current insights in to sugar reduction from my diet have shown me that that may have been my only issue all along, as I have been enjoying whole milk, brussel sprouts, broccoli, beans and onions again with zero gastrointestinal side effects.

On a semi-related note, I have been using Truvia and Erythritol in place of regular sugar in my weight loss journey since Oct. 15th and have lost 17 lbs. as of today. Do you know if these processed sugars are "safe" or just as bad as other artificial sweeteners?

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@tekkie3

Yes, to a registered dietician and also to a gastroenterologist. I have been diagnosed as having no official foods allergies or intolerances. Although my current insights in to sugar reduction from my diet have shown me that that may have been my only issue all along, as I have been enjoying whole milk, brussel sprouts, broccoli, beans and onions again with zero gastrointestinal side effects.

On a semi-related note, I have been using Truvia and Erythritol in place of regular sugar in my weight loss journey since Oct. 15th and have lost 17 lbs. as of today. Do you know if these processed sugars are "safe" or just as bad as other artificial sweeteners?

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I'm happy to hear you've seen both specialists and that there was nothing diagnostic found. Way to go cutting back on your sugar intake! Anything specific that has helped you curb cravings? Halloween candy is still in the pantry.. eek!

I responded to your Truvia/Erythritol question in a separate post. Congratulations on your weight loss!

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