Myths and Tips for Healthy Eating

By: Madison Brunner

We asked Thomas Hritz, dietitian manager at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, for some tips on healthy eating.

To many people, taking the first step is the most challenging part of a diet change. What is the best way to begin?

A: Focus on the positive and add healthy foods to your diet instead of subtracting foods you enjoy eating. For starters, the recommendation is about three to four servings of fruit and four to five servings of vegetables. A serving is about half of a cup, but everyone’s body is different, so a handful is a quick measurement for your body. Hydrate your body by drinking water and low calorie beverages throughout the day.

What do you believe is the biggest myth about healthy eating?

A: The biggest misunderstanding about nutrition is the belief carbohydrates are unhealthy. Complex carbs are your main source of energy, and around 50 to 60 percent of calories should come from carbs. Replace simple carbs with complex carbs by staying away from sweets and eating more whole grains found in oatmeal, brown rice and any 100-percent whole wheat food. To balance a meal, incorporate vegetables by adding them to your pasta or consume a bowl of whole grain pasta alongside a salad. Remember, diet is all about balance.

Why do you think so many diets fail?

A: Those who look for a quick weight loss or eliminate an entire food group are most likely to fail their diet. The best way to lose weight is to change your diet over time rather than changing everything at once. Slow weight loss is most sustainable, and shedding around 1 to 2 pounds per week is healthiest. Focus on finding your favorite foods in each food group to consume balanced meals without sacrificing taste.

What are some healthy foods to eat in 2017?

A: Nuts and fish (in moderation). Nuts are full of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, and most taste great roasted without salt. A small handful each day goes a long way – try almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews or peanuts. A good, healthy diet should be mostly plant-based, but meat is the best source of protein offering the highest amount per gram. Adding a moderate amount of animal protein to a healthy diet is recommended. Fish is the healthiest animal protein, especially fish that is high in omega-3 fats like salmon, sardines, fresh tuna, trout and halibut.

What’s the best strategy to maintain a healthy diet throughout the year?

A: Those who maintain a food journal and count calories are most successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Mindful eating is essential to maintenance – instead of cutting back, be more aware of what you consume. Fitbits are also a helpful resource because they allow you to track your progress and see trends in activity. Allow yourself to get hungry, it’s healthy for your stomach to rumble. Take between 20 and 30 minutes to eat so your brain has time to catch up with your stomach.