Is eating healthy really that hard to understand? - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Is eating healthy really that hard to understand?

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Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 9:30 pm

As a dietitian, I appreciate the level of knowledge required to understand the intricacies of food composition in all facets of life, not just in weight loss. What I really do not need to explain to one of my adult clients is the blueprint for what you should base a healthy diet on. Do you know of any adults that could not identify that a double cheeseburger is much less healthy for them than a grilled piece of fish and steamed vegetables? Of course not. Our obesity epidemic has prompted more nutrition information to the public than ever before, and it isn't working as we are getting heavier each year.

If a friend or relative who was 30 pounds overweight came to you for advice on how to lose the weight, what would you say? You would likely give close to the same answer as a doctor or dietitian would. It would be something close to: eat more fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, cut out high-fat, high-calorie foods. How about oatmeal for breakfast instead of pancakes and bacon, a salad with fruit and grilled chicken for lunch instead of fried chicken and candy, etc. A degree in nutrition is not needed to comprehend this. The focus of the problem is shifted to the question of why we choose to eat foods that go against our better judgment.

Since I have just established that you likely know the right foods that are good for your health and longevity, how do you go about making the correct choices? This is not a "one size fits all" answer. You must establish reasons for your frequent high calorie food choices and address the issue for each one. For example, you are out running errands with the kids all day and have no food at home and everyone is hungry. You go to McDonald's (which the kids usually won't argue with) and everybody is full in minutes. Would it take much longer to run into the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken and some broccoli and vegetable soup and prepare this in minutes at home?

It is usually easier to spot your habits by journaling what you eat over a period of time (preferably at least two weeks). Once this is done, if you need further guidance, you can seek out one of the registered dietitians practicing in your area by going to and enter your ZIP code under "find a dietitian."

Michael Murphy is a registered dietitian living in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at (480) 415-8803 or visit

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