National Nutrition Month: Your Nutrition Questions, Answered

National Nutrition Month: Your Nutrition Questions, Answered

In honor of National Nutrition Month, our expert nutrition team took over the Advanced Surgeons social media accounts to answer your questions about how to eat right. Whether you’re looking for a bariatric surgery diet or you just want to eat better and be healthier, our team has the answers you’re looking for.

What Is a healthy diet?

This is not a question that can be answered easily. A healthy diet is going to look a little different for everyone, depending on their current health levels and their goals. Someone who wants to control his or her diabetes will have to eat differently than someone trying to pack on mass for a bodybuilding competition, for example. However, in general, a healthy lifestyle includes lean protein, vegetables, fruit and healthy, high fiber carbohydrates (such as beans, whole grains and raspberries), as well as plenty of exercise.

What is more important, diet or exercise?

Both are important for a healthy lifestyle. However, you may have heard that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, which we’ve found to be true. You may also have heard that weight loss is mostly diet. That is also true—most of your weight loss (or weight gain) work is done in the kitchen.

What are healthy portions for my food? How much should I be eating?

This is another question whose answer will be different for each person.  A 50-year-old woman who is 5 feet tall will eat very differently than a 25-year-old man who is 6 feet tall. Choices and portion sizes both impact the overall quality of your diet. A Registered Dietitian can help you determine how much you should be eating. He or she can also help you set goals that will inform the way you eat.

How can I eat healthy on a budget?

The best bang for your buck is generally going to be found at the grocery store and in your kitchen, rather than in a restaurant. Planning and preparing your own food, rather than relying on what is near you at mealtime, can save a lot of money—and calories.  

Is eating meat bad for you?

There’s nothing wrong with eating meat in moderation. You can include lean meats in your diet, such as fish, chicken, lean beef and lean pork. Red and processed meats usually have more saturated fat than lean meats like fish and poultry, so eat these in moderation.

Does being vegan make you healthier?

Not necessarily. It all depends on your food choices. You can get protein from plant sources such as tofu, seitan and pea protein as part of a healthy diet.  But eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates isn’t healthy. For example, French fries are a vegan item, but they aren’t a healthy choice.

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic (or keto) diet is a very low carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan with adequate protein intake.  It is designed to keep your body burning fat selectively for energy through a process called ketosis. Normally, the body uses blood sugar—which comes from eating carbohydrates and from carbohydrates that the liver produces—as its main source of energy. By strictly limiting carbohydrates, however, the body has to use a different source of energy called ketones, which come from the breakdown of fat.

How do I know if I’m getting all the nutrition I need?

Your dietitian can help you determine if you are meeting your nutrition needs. Using a fitness tracker program like Lose It! or MyFitnessPal is a good start to determine where there may be opportunities to improve your nutrition and what good habits you should continue. You enter what you eat into the app, which gives you a breakdown of how many calories; macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat); and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that food contains. It will deliver a report to you of how many calories and nutrients you’ve eaten throughout the day. Tracking calories is one of the most reliable ways to lose weight, and a 2019 study suggests it only takes about 15 minutes a day.

Should I take a multivitamin?

All bariatric surgery patients should take a multivitamin daily. Many forms of bariatric surgery inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calories and nutrients, so it is especially important for people who have had a bariatric surgery procedure to take a multivitamin to ensure they’re getting enough essential vitamins and minerals. For most other people who eat a healthy, balanced diet, a multivitamin is not always necessary, but it doesn’t hurt to take one anyway, just to be safe.

How can I improve my overall nutrition?

Eating well is simple, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is easy. Following these tips will get you most of the way to a healthy diet and lifestyle. For an extra boost, consult with a Registered Dietitian.

  • Eat whole foods instead of processed foods.
  • Include lean proteins at your meals and at least two servings of vegetables every day.
  • Include one to two servings of low glycemic index fruits like berries or citrus fruit per day.
  • If you consume carbohydrates, use carbohydrates that include at least three grams of fiber.
  • Cut out sugar, refined carbohydrates and high-calorie foods.