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Healthy eating

March is National Nutrition Month and keeping in mind what you eat is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. (Stock image)

MARQUETTE – March is National Nutrition Month – Nutrition is often a topic of interest to anyone who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Many may not know that a great resource to help someone develop an individualized nutrition plan is available right here in our community: the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) in the Nutrition & Wellness/Diabetes Education department at UP Health System-Marquette.

“Many people when they hear the word ‘diet’ they think of restrictions,” said Sherri Rule, RD, one of the UPHS-Marquette Registered Dietitians. “What we focus on instead is lifestyle changes. Any type of healthy change is a great place to start. For example, if someone doesn’t eat vegetables but wants to start making a healthy change, adding one serving of vegetables a day could be your start to improving your health.”

Sherri went on to say, “It’s better to look at having things in moderation and to implement healthy choices, and this is where an RDN can help. We can empower a person to make the next right change, a gradual change over time. A drastic change can be a recipe for disaster.”

Lauren Cole, MS RD, also a UPHS-Marquette Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, said there’s a word she would emphasize: “Balance. Balance is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is very important when cooking and incorporating all of the food groups. Along with balance of food groups comes the incorporation of physical activity and everything in moderation. With the diet trends we see, many people think they must eliminate food groups. It comes down to wanting a quick fix, but there are a lot of factors that go into making a change that will last. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help find ways to set realistic goals, along with breaking down diet trends in our society and how they may impact our body. Many factors are taken into consideration when developing a realistic nutrition plan. They are developed solely for the individual by looking at labs, height, weight, age, gender, socioeconomic status, and current lifestyle, among many other factors. We keep up to date on resources that may be available within the community that may help an individual or family.”

Dietitians Lauren Cole, left, and Sherri Rule, are seen. (Photo courtesy of UP Health System-Marquette)

“Many diseases that are diagnosed have direct nutritional influences,” Rule said. “Registered Dietitian Nutritionists look at everything that’s going on related to the specific questions someone has, and is able to help clarify any confusion the individual might have. For example, there is a lot of misinformation available about nutrition. The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is available to help the individual better understand the best approach to take regarding the individual’s situation and to help clear up any misunderstanding one may have.”

Many do not know what is involved in becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

“A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist goes through an accredited undergraduate and internship program to be able to sit for the board exam,” Cole explained. “After obtaining the credential, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is responsible for continuing education to stay up to date with current recommendations and research.”

According to Rule. “Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are involved in a variety of areas including food service, pediatrics, weight management, geriatrics, sports nutrition, oncology and others. They can also further their education and specialize in certain areas such as sports, gerontology, pediatrics, renal, obesity and weight management, or oncology.”

Cole also said. “It is a very exciting time in our field because of the opportunities opening up and positions being created so that Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are represented as the food and nutrition experts on a community and global scale.”

Help from the Nutrition & Wellness/Diabetes Education department at UP Health System-Marquette can easily be obtained through a referral from one’s primary care physician. According to Rule, “There are many insurance plans that cover nutrition education; to make sure your plan covers this service, it’s a good idea to check with your individual insurance carrier.”

If you’re interested in meeting with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, you may either contact your primary care physician, or call our office, at (906) 225-3221.

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