Finding a Balance Between Healthy Aging and Nutrition – 425magazine.com

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Healthy Eating

Between TV, magazines, and social media influencers, we are bombarded with conflicting dietary advice each day. If you layer on advice about how our food choices can harm the planet, everything seems even more complex.

But as Cynthia Bartok, a registered dietitian nutritionist and faculty member at Bastyr University in Kenmore, explains, “Eating in a way that is good for you and good for the planet doesn’t need to be complicated.”

Try the Healthy Plate Method

Bartok says that one way to cut through the noise is to create meals in line with the Healthy Plate Method.

Bartok recommends starting with a 9-inch dinner plate, then filling half of the plate with one or more cooked or fresh nonstarchy vegetables that are low in carbohydrates and calories, like carrots, peppers, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, eggplant, okra, beets, and zucchini. The person preparing the plate then should fill one-quarter of the plate with healthy “lean” protein sources low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, like skinless chicken breast, white fish, pork loin, canned tuna, shrimp, tofu, legumes, and lean cuts of beef,” Bartok continued.

That leaves the last quarter of the plate free for starchy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes, corn, and cassava. Include healthy whole grain breads, brown rice, quinoa, corn tortillas, barley, and couscous, Bartok said.

What Should I Drink?

To wash down the meal, select a calorie-free drink such as tap or sparkling water garnished with a fruit wedge, or a decaffeinated coffee or tea. Bartok noted the importance of “selecting options that do not have any added sugars or calories to complete a balanced meal.”

Healthy Aging and Food: A Dose of Prevention

“The Healthy Plate Method may seem too simple to be effective,” Bartok says, “however, extensive research shows that following a largely plant-based diet can prevent and treat many of the common diseases that affect older adults in the U.S., including pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and excess body weight.”

Good for People and the Planet

“There are some easy adjustments to the Healthy Plate Method that will benefit not only your health but are good for the planet,” Bartok said.

Choosing lean protein sources, like poultry, shellfish, seafood, and pork instead of beef, or adopting “meatless Mondays” with a focus on plant protein foods, like tofu, legumes, tempeh, or nut butter, are positive, healthy choices for both a person and the planet, Bartok said.

With these simple guidelines, it’s possible to make healthy nutritional choices that benefit our bodies through the aging process and benefit our local and global communities.

Find more information about the Healthy Plate Method and personalized eating plans by reaching out to a registered dietitian within your health care plan, or call the nutrition team at Bastyr Center for Natural Health at (206) 834-4100. 

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