Spring is the time for fresh starts and new beginnings — a time to look, once again, at priorities and motivations. As National Nutrition Month comes to a close, the attention brings the importance of dietary choices into sharper focus.
Recharging your diet doesn’t have to be like climbing Mount Rainier. Eating a healthy diet, filled with lean meats, nuts, fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy and whole grains, can be achievable with every lifestyle.
“The biggest barrier (to making lifestyle changes) for service members is time. This lack of time is due to work demands, but it’s also their personal choices about what is a priority in their life,” said 1st Lt. Stephanie Meno, chief of Madigan Army Medical Center’s Community and Outpatient Services.
One of the first things Meno recommends to service members or anyone interested in making lifestyle changes is to observe their current behaviors such as sleep, nutrition and activity.
“By tracking what they currently do, they are able to better identify the areas that require improvement,” she said. “I then ask them to pick one or two things to focus on changing.”
Small changes, such as using skim milk in coffee instead of cream or replacing soda with diet soda or water can add up over time to big wins, Meno said. In addition to tracking current behaviors, Meno also stresses the importance of having a plan.
“If you leave your nutrition choices up to chance, you are likely to make decisions that are convenient and probably unhealthy,” she said.
Lifestyle changes can leave people feeling overwhelmed, confused or unsure of how to start.
To work on health and diet, the Nutrition Care Division at Madigan can provide resources to guide the journey to wellness.
The Madigan Nutrition Clinic offers a variety of services — from group classes to individual appointments with a registered dietitian. Appointments and classes are available to active-duty service members, family members and veterans.
Referrals are not needed to make an appointment, except with a pediatric dietitian. To schedule an appointment, call the clinic at 253-968-0537.
Current class offerings include: Fit for Performance for active-duty personnel, Bariatric Pathways, Heart Healthy Cardiac class and Fit for Health for civilians.
Additionally, using evidence-based practices, Madigan dietitians can provide individualized medical nutrition therapy and counseling to cover a wide variety of health conditions such as: renal, diabetes and prediabetes, eating disorders, high blood pressure, weight management and high cholesterol.
The clinic also has a board certified pediatric dietitian on staff.
Health doesn’t take a break when life gets crazy and time feels short. A person needs to identify what is most important to them and what will motivate them to make the change, Meno said.
Make a plan, find your personal motivation and spring forward into health this new season.