Registered dietitian offers lessons on healthy eating

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Suffield - posted Thu., Nov. 7, 2013
Dietitian Charlotte Meucci gives advice about healthy eating. Photo by Lisa Stone.
Dietitian Charlotte Meucci gives advice about healthy eating. Photo by Lisa Stone.

Kent Memorial Library sponsored a night of nutritional education on Oct. 29, thanks to a visit from Charlotte Meucci, RD CDE CD-N, a dietitian for the cardiology department at Hartford Hospital. Meucci set out to help people to understand exactly how our food choices affect our health.

“One key factor to improving our overall health is to reduce our sodium intake,” said Meucci. “Almost all foods contain sodium, even vegetables. Fruits would be the exception to that rule. 1,500 milligrams of sodium is the maximum daily allowance. Some prepared foods contain over 3,000 milligrams. Everyone should get used to reading the labels on packages. Be mindful of the fact that most packages give product information based on the serving size, not the entire package.”

Meucci recommends that we eat several small meals throughout the day, as opposed to three large meals. The ideal percentage of sodium per meal would be 5 percent or less. If your sodium intake is 6 to 10 percent, you must be cautious to limit the amount of meals that meet that criteria. “Always try to select fresh food over processed,” added Meucci. “Prepared foods add so many ingredients that you don’t necessarily need. Instead of adding salt to your meal, add flavor to your meals with healthy spices, fruit juices or flavored vinegar.”

According to Meucci, Mrs. Dash offers a vast amount of sodium-free seasonings that are a much better choice when flavoring your meal. Another trick that she shared with the audience was to use white vinegar and spices of your choice to create a meat rub.

One tip that Meucci gave to the crowd was to compare our food intake to fuel fill-ups in our cars. “Think of food as the fuel that makes our body run, just like gasoline makes a car run. Just eat enough fuel to make your body run for a short term,” warned Meucci. ”If you over-fill a gasoline tank, it will spill out. You need to replenish your tank after a short time, and don’t over-fill it.”

According to Meucci, portion sizes that are of healthy limits are as follows: 3 ounces of meat, which is approximately the size of a deck of cards; bagels should be approximately the size of a hockey puck; the ideal size of a baked potato is comparable to a computer mouse; a half cup of rice is comparable to a tennis ball; 10 ounces of cheese is approximately the size of four dice; and one cup of ice cream is the size of a baseball. If you are used to eating a larger portion of protein such as meat, there is no need to go hungry. Meucci recommends filling up on vegetables. She recommends having a salad with your meal.

Other tips healthy eating are: control portions, eat slowly and chew well, only drink calorie-free drinks, be sure to fit treats into your daily menu, and move frequently. “There are no good or bad foods,” said Meucci. “You need to make healthy food choices. Try to eat before you are actually hungry. Keep healthy snacks with you so that you are not encouraged to stop off somewhere to get an unhealthy food choice. Always keep in mind that it takes 20 minutes for the brain to receive the signal that the stomach is full.”

Dorian and Vernon Taylor attended the session to learn how to be as healthy as possible. “My husband had a stroke this past May,” said Dorian. “Even though he is not overweight and does not eat fatty foods, he still had a stroke. We need to find out what we can do to promote a healthy nutritional regiment.”

Joyce Formeister was hoping to learn some nutritional tips. “I am convinced that obesity is the product of more than just overeating,” said Formeister. “Proper nutritional information is a great start, but I truly believe that obesity is a mental disorder… Nutritional education, along with behavioral therapy, will most likely be the best scenario to fight obesity.”

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