WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Americans are eating healthier, according to a recent New York Times report , and Westchesterites are aligned with that trend.
In fact, say area experts, local residents are very proactive about lifestyle changes for health improvement.
Pat Talio, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, the outpatient nutrition program coordinator at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, for example, believes there is more interest and enthusiasm for learning about and seeking out healthier food options.
"The widespread availability of farmers’ markets, the accessibility of a larger variety of nutritious foods from cultures worldwide, in particular foods that were previously overlooked, and the growing popularity of Food Network programs and chefs that focus on cooking well all contribute to an increasing interest in eating well," she said.
Adds Janie Zeitlin, a registered dietitian affiliated with White Plains Hospital, Westchesterites are a sophisticated bunch, meaning they are very aware about their food choices and ask a lot of questions.
"Many people I see don't want to be told what to do, they want to understand why they need to do what I'm suggesting," she said. "This awareness and motivation to learn was not as noticeable to me, say five or ten years ago."
With all that information said Talio, part of her job becomes helping to debunk or validate facts, as people can become easily confused from conflicting information.
Her best advice? Plan your meals. Second, be mindful of what you eat, where you eat, and when you are eating.
Talio also believes being accountable to yourself by keeping a food journal is tremendously helpful.
She also advises being cognizant of what is on a food label. "I teach my patients to read and understand, not just the nutrition facts, but the ingredients as well," she said.
"As a general rule of thumb: the fewer number of ingredients in a food product the better. I advocate consuming less packaged and processed foods, and trying to cook with more whole and natural foods."
Focus on adding satisfying healthy foods to your meals: lean proteins (not powders), monounsaturated fats and soluble fiber (things that you actually have to chew), stresses Zeitlin.
Her big no-nos: Don't have a restrictive "diet" mindset where you are fixated on every calorie or on the need to "detox" or "cleanse" your system.
"Food is not magical, but the feeling you get when you learn to eat in a sensible, rational manner that is right for you ... the feeling you get when your cravings are controlled and you want to put down your fork because you actually feel full. That," she said, "is magical."