Healthy eating starts with learning new ways to eat, such as adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and cutting back on foods that have a lot of fat, salt, and sugar.  A change to healthier eating also includes learning about balance, variety, and moderation.  Investing in a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to prevent health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

Laci Williams, UTMB clinical dietitian

Laci Williams, UTMB clinical dietitian, shares some tips on how to maintain a healthy diet both at work and at home.

Why is good nutrition important?  

Nutrition should be looked like as fuel. A car runs on gasoline, there are a variety of types and some cars perform better with premium gas. Food is our gas, we need it to survive and function. Putting “premium” foods into your body will allow for you to perform more efficient and effectively.

Not concentrating your diet on one certain food group is important. The brain uses glucose as its preferred choice of energy. Therefore limiting carbohydrates in one’s diet could impact the brain’s functionality.

What can employees do to ensure that they are eating as healthy as possible?   What does UTMB offer to help?

Rather than making an early morning trip through the local drive thru, visit the UTMB Cafe on the Court.  Breakfast options include oatmeal, fresh fruit, low fat yogurt and a variety of high fiber breakfast bars. At lunch you'll find fresh vegetables available on the hot line as well as in the variety of fresh salads in the Outtakes sections.  Don't forget to grab the low fat dressings. Water or diet soft drinks are available and are a much better choice than sugary drinks.  When snack time comes, avoid the candies and reach for fruit, nuts or yogurt, but keep the portions under control. 

Any healthy eating tips?

Eat a smart breakfast. Choose options that are high in fiber and low in fat

Drink plenty of water and avoid sodas and sugary drinks (liquid calories)

Eat one meatless meal per week

Portion control - eat on a small 9” plate for meals, use measuring cups when preparing and serving your food

Try the “plate method” 25 percent of the plate is for lean meat (chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin);  25 percent whole grain rice, pasta, or bread and 50 percent is for vegetables

Snack but choose wisely (fresh fruit, almonds, low fat string cheese, fat free yogurt)

Find healthy substitutions for your favorite food items (i.e. ranch dip- mix a ranch packet seasoning in with fat free sour cream or fat free Greek yogurt)

What are some of the normal obstacles that people face when trying to eat healthy?

Marketing temptations:  grocery stores strategically place items for impulse purchases. To prevent this write out your grocery list prior and stick to it!

Lack of planning meals:  Planning out meals (and modifying leftovers) can save time and money.

Oversized portions:  over the last 20 years, the portions being served in restaurants and food service establishments have nearly doubled.  Be cautious when dining out and try splitting entrees and/or ordering off the children’s menu.

Lack of nutrition facts/labels:  if you aren’t informed, it is very hard to “guess-timate” the calories in prepared items. Asking dining establishments or looking online for nutrition information for a favorite dish item can be helpful and prevent you from going overboard in caloric consumption.

Trying to change multiple habits at once:  It takes time to make health habits a routine. Working at changing one thing at a time is often more successful and can be maintained if more attention is focused on a couple of habits versus trying to change your whole routine.