March 16, 2016

For the Love of Health, Skip the Fad Diet

Holly Willis, Assistant Professor and Director of Nutrition and Dietetics

March is National Nutrition Month, and the theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” Holly Willis, assistant professor and director of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at St. Kate’s has some tips on how people can eat well without giving up their favorite meals and flavors.

Willis suggests that where many people go wrong with their diets is not what they eat, but the amount they eat. She says, “The new dietary guidelines that were just released really are spot on when they encourage Americans to consider dietary patterns more than considering the nutrients that come from a food group.”

The new guidelines make healthy eating much more approachable and less daunting.

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats as well as reduce sodium (salt) intake.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.

Willis stressed that many classic American meals are carbohydrate rich, and lack the hearty greens that provide nutrients.
“Aiming to make vegetables or legumes the center of a meal and keeping the meats and grains as sides is a solid idea,” she says.

These dietary guidelines focus on a shift to healthy choices, such as eliminating sugary options for snacks and beverages. On this Willis was very clear,“The one thing I am a stickler on: People should drink water. In my opinion, there is no reason for soda or sugar sweetened beverages.”

Each guideline is one step toward a healthier life, but as Willis suggested, we need to make conscious lifestyle choices if we wish to change our health.

Learn more about the new dietary guidelines at health.gov.

by Madeline Peterson '17