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Published on February 01, 2017

Making Informed Food Choices

Woman studying nutrition labelDonna Apostle, RN, clinical appeals nurse at Northwestern Medicine, became hooked on clean eating after attending her first healthy eating class at the Leishman Center for Culinary Health. She met influential health experts who shaped her approach to nutrition by teaching her three simple tips:

Tip #1

Avoid heavily processed foods. Many foods contain added sugar, salt, or other ingredients to preserve their flavor. The more ingredients on the food label, the more the product has been changed from its natural state. Try to avoid microwaveable meals, and piece every meal together by cooking with natural fruits and vegetables. These foods should take up half of your plate.

Tip #2

Scan food labels for sugars. According to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than 24 grams of added sugars, and men no more than 36 grams. These grams add up because one gram equals four calories. Current labels list grams of sugar but not added sugars. Look for cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or corn sweetener to find if sugars have been added.

Tip #3

Learn your taste preferences. You may find certain spices or flavors make meals more robust without adding extra calories or salt. Garlic pairs nicely with roasted vegetables. Fresh herbs, such as basil, are versatile for many meat and vegetable dishes, especially tomato-based meals. Add a pinch of mint to a spicy dish to tame the heat.

Dietitian’s Dish

During monthly cancer support group meetings at Hy-Vee Kitchen, nutrition experts demonstrate healthy meal preparation for cancer survivors and their loved ones. Lessons cover healthy food swaps and ways to make affordable and healthy meals at home. Participants taste the dishes prepared and are given copies of the recipes to take home.

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