Healthy Food Choices – One Piece of the Proactive Health Puzzle

Oct 6, 2021 | Tara Schmidt | @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.

I started my changes in eating in March of 2021 after a bowel blockage, caused from previous bowel cancer surgery. . I have been trying to educate myself but all computer info seems focused on weight loss rather than health. Here's how I go at it. 1st) I check everything for sugar. Added sugar on the label, other artificial sugar in the ingredients list, and all the chemical names that include a sugar in disguise. I try to buy organic and wash everything that can be washed before I eat it (eliminated pesticides). I eat lots of fruit and vegetables including well washed skins, which hold most of the vitamins. I went thru' about 5 months logging everything I ate just to get a handle on my total carb, added sugar, and Sat. fats, calories, and eating habits. I upped my protein. I cook almost exclusively with olive oil. I eat tuna, salmon, and chicken occassionally, but I think they are all dangerous. I never was much on red meat, but now I rarely eat hamburger. I eat WW bread. When I eat canned vegetables or fruits, I wash all the juice/syrup/water off. What isn't filled with sugar- is filled with salt. I rarely eat soup (salt), rarely drink fruit juice (I eat 6 prunes a day to be sure my bowels keep moving ) …And I stumble a lot, fall off the wagon, but alway go back. I am off my antidepressants, off my blood pressure medicine, off henna-S (which is a stool softener + a laxitive). I am holding at 118 lbs, down from about 135. My blood sugar is under control and the only medication I take is Metformin. I go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. Take calcium, B12, Fish Oil and probiotics. My cholesterol is a little high but not enough to be worrisome. Do I miss fried foods and dessert? You bet. Do I get frustrated? You bet? Do I backslide? You bet. But, at 73, I haven't felt this good in years. I stopped looking at 'fad' diets long ago, but I may take a second look at the Keto diet based on Trekkie 3's comments. Good luck to all of you who are trying to get healthy! Don't give up.

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@pc2018

I started my changes in eating in March of 2021 after a bowel blockage, caused from previous bowel cancer surgery. . I have been trying to educate myself but all computer info seems focused on weight loss rather than health. Here's how I go at it. 1st) I check everything for sugar. Added sugar on the label, other artificial sugar in the ingredients list, and all the chemical names that include a sugar in disguise. I try to buy organic and wash everything that can be washed before I eat it (eliminated pesticides). I eat lots of fruit and vegetables including well washed skins, which hold most of the vitamins. I went thru' about 5 months logging everything I ate just to get a handle on my total carb, added sugar, and Sat. fats, calories, and eating habits. I upped my protein. I cook almost exclusively with olive oil. I eat tuna, salmon, and chicken occassionally, but I think they are all dangerous. I never was much on red meat, but now I rarely eat hamburger. I eat WW bread. When I eat canned vegetables or fruits, I wash all the juice/syrup/water off. What isn't filled with sugar- is filled with salt. I rarely eat soup (salt), rarely drink fruit juice (I eat 6 prunes a day to be sure my bowels keep moving ) …And I stumble a lot, fall off the wagon, but alway go back. I am off my antidepressants, off my blood pressure medicine, off henna-S (which is a stool softener + a laxitive). I am holding at 118 lbs, down from about 135. My blood sugar is under control and the only medication I take is Metformin. I go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. Take calcium, B12, Fish Oil and probiotics. My cholesterol is a little high but not enough to be worrisome. Do I miss fried foods and dessert? You bet. Do I get frustrated? You bet? Do I backslide? You bet. But, at 73, I haven't felt this good in years. I stopped looking at 'fad' diets long ago, but I may take a second look at the Keto diet based on Trekkie 3's comments. Good luck to all of you who are trying to get healthy! Don't give up.

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You have some great motivation there, @pc2018 Based on your medical history, a true keto diet is not something I would recommend without the guidance of a registered dietitian. You have made some really excellent lifestyle changes. Keep up the great work!

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So @taraschmidt , whaddaya think of a chicken salad sandwich on WW bread or a red pepper hummus spread on 7 saltine crackers … oh , and a Pilsener beer 🍺 to go with either ??? … your buddy , Bob Walters

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@taraschmidt

You have some great motivation there, @pc2018 Based on your medical history, a true keto diet is not something I would recommend without the guidance of a registered dietitian. You have made some really excellent lifestyle changes. Keep up the great work!

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Thank you @taraschmidt for the advice on Keto. Also, from what I understand, artificial sugar is suppose to be really hard on your bowel system so I have double the incentive to avoid artificial sugar, too.

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@rjwintl

So @taraschmidt , whaddaya think of a chicken salad sandwich on WW bread or a red pepper hummus spread on 7 saltine crackers … oh , and a Pilsener beer 🍺 to go with either ??? … your buddy , Bob Walters

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Hi Bob, the conversation always starts with asking what your health goals are. Weight loss? Improved cholesterol? Health maintenance? I believe in everything in moderation, though if you'd like my professional advice on your examples above, I would consider the following: how was the chicken salad made? Could you swap mayo for Greek yogurt, or a combo, to decrease the added fat? Would you swap the saltines for a whole grain cracker or pita? How often do you have beer? Just items to consider!

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@taraschmidt

Hi Bob, the conversation always starts with asking what your health goals are. Weight loss? Improved cholesterol? Health maintenance? I believe in everything in moderation, though if you'd like my professional advice on your examples above, I would consider the following: how was the chicken salad made? Could you swap mayo for Greek yogurt, or a combo, to decrease the added fat? Would you swap the saltines for a whole grain cracker or pita? How often do you have beer? Just items to consider!

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OMG , Tara !!! … you’ve definitely got the inside track on Healthy !!! … will check the ingredients , calories and cost between what I was doing and what you’re recommending !!! … Pandemic-wild eating had me balloon to 218 ,, today with doing your recommendation I’m at 204 (truthfully) … taking rosuvastatin ,5mg , daily and really starting to feel much better ( I also walk a 2 mile RT thru the neighborhood !!! … beer , in moderation about twice a week (6-pak lasts me a month) … goal is getting back to 195 lbs by next Summer !!! Thanks again for your guidance on my road to better Health !!! … your buddy , Bob

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@rjwintl

OMG , Tara !!! … you’ve definitely got the inside track on Healthy !!! … will check the ingredients , calories and cost between what I was doing and what you’re recommending !!! … Pandemic-wild eating had me balloon to 218 ,, today with doing your recommendation I’m at 204 (truthfully) … taking rosuvastatin ,5mg , daily and really starting to feel much better ( I also walk a 2 mile RT thru the neighborhood !!! … beer , in moderation about twice a week (6-pak lasts me a month) … goal is getting back to 195 lbs by next Summer !!! Thanks again for your guidance on my road to better Health !!! … your buddy , Bob

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Wow, Bob! Things are definitely moving in the right direction for you. Congratulations!

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