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Introducing a New Diet Series

Eating is an essential activity that we all must do. Eating well is an essential activity to being, getting and keeping well. But what does it mean to eat well? Is it the same for all of us? How much science is behind the latest diet trends and what does that mean to me? Meals to Heal is launching a new blog series to help address and make sense of confusing topics that affect our understanding of what it means to eat well.

Tools to use to evaluate health claims and diet trends

Use the SMART acronym to determine if a specific diet or health approach is sound and right for you:

Sustainable – Does this diet or health approach offer variety or little flexibility in food choices?

Can you apply what you learn from the health approach to everyday life, social interactions?

Utilize approaches that recommend a range of food choices and food groups to maximize taste, texture, satisfaction and nutrient intake.

Motive – Where does the information come from? Does the source have a personal or financial interest in convincing you?

Look for un-biased sources.

Authority – What science is used to back up the health claims? Is it a personal or an expert’s opinion? Is the information from a research study? If so, how large were the studies, what kind of studies were they and what population was examined?

Pick out information from large randomized studies that offer evidenced based standards that apply to a population group that includes you.

Reasonable – Does this diet or health approach focus on whole foods or use neutraceuticals like pills or shakes?

Choose food based approaches for a maximum benefit and least amount of potential harm (both health-wise and financially).

Think – Does the diet and its claims sound too good to be true? Can the claims made be healthy or even possible?

Avoid assertions that offer miracles in an unrealistic amount of time or in an unrealistic way.

Take away

As a new year approaches, think about how you can improve your health and wellness. Ultimately, a healthy diet starts with a variety of fruits and vegetables and regular exercise, key components that many people lack. Work with a registered dietitian to determine your individual needs and to help you to reach your health goals. Cheers!

Hillary Sachs, MS, RD, CSO, CDN

Hillary is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO). She received her BS in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and MS in Clinical Nutrition at New York University, and completed her dietetic internship at the James J. Peters Bronx VA Medical Center. Hillary works as an outpatient dietitian at the North Shore-LIJ’s Cancer Institute, where she counsels patients and their families before, during and after cancer treatment. Additionally, Hillary counsels clients on nutrition through her private practice, Recipe for Health, L.L.C., and has been invited to present at several nutrition-related events including the Breast Cancer Update Symposium at North Shore-LIJ (2013) and Adelphi University’s Farm to Table lecture (2014). Hillary strives to translate the science behind health, nutrition and prevention into practical and easy-to-follow recommendations.

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