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Nutrition hotline will give callers the skinny on food labels, serving size and eating healthy

POSTED: March 9, 2011 1:30 a.m.
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Although many people would like to eat healthier, not everyone knows exactly how to do it.

On March 30, the Georgia Dietetic Association will be hosting a nutrition hotline where residents across the state can call in and speak with a registered dietitian about their nutrition-related questions.

"March is National Nutrition Month, so we wanted to have an event to draw attention to it," said Amy Roark, Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic registered dietitian and hotline participant.

"It also gives us the opportunity to reach out to people throughout the state. Not everyone who lives outside of larger cities have access to a registered dietitian.

"We’ll be able to give them a good idea of good nutritional choices. We’ll also possibly be able to point them in the direction of a dietitian in their area, so that so they can hopefully see someone in person."

Making better food choices can not only improve your overall health, it can also help you to shed a few pounds.

Although we all learned about the food pyramid in elementary school, not many of us stick to its guidelines when planning our everyday meals. The pyramid contains suggested daily proportions for fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, proteins and oils.

"One of the No. 1 things that I see is people who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables," said Roark, who sees patients in her Gainesville office.

"Typically, the target is between five and nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables combined."

With the availability of 100-percent fruit and vegetable juices, increasing your intake can be as simple as pouring a drink. However, Roark cautions against a liquid-only approach.

"When you drink juice, you miss out on a lot of the good fiber that (whole) fruits and vegetables have to offer," she said.

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can be simple. Try substituting chips for crunchy vegetables as the companion for your favorite dip.

Making smart food choices isn’t just about the foods that you eat, it’s also about the beverages you drink. Because the average person loses around three quarts of water daily, the American Dietetic Association recommends drinking around 9 to 13 cups of water per day.

Water not only flushes toxins from your body, it also helps to improve skin quality.

"It is OK to use those flavor packets (when drinking water)," Roark said.

"A lot of people question if consuming sweeteners is safe. If you try to limit it to two or three artificially sweetened beverages per day, you should be safe, but I still wouldn’t recommend sweetening every drink.

"It would be great if people would drink plain water though. That would be my first recommendation."



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