Opinion: Some Advice for Healthy Eating

By T.J. Bynes, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Baystate Noble Hospital

Folks often ask me for healthy meal options, or what they can do to eat healthier. Usually, I refer everyone to Baystate Noble’s skilled team of dietitians because the answer is simply different for everyone, and there’s no magic bullet to weight loss or health. However, if I were pressed to come up with an answer, I’d sum it up in a few short words: eat fresh food.

I get it. We’re addicted to convenience. We have the ability to watch movies or listen to our favorite songs at the press of a button. We can order products that will arrive the next day without leaving our homes. And more likely than not, you enjoy several foods that are boxed, bagged, canned, or packaged for your convenience. Unfortunately, many of those items are coming with added things you weren’t planning on eating. Nearly all of those products are loaded up with preservatives, ranging from the dreaded salt monster to things that are nearly unpronounceable. The fact of the matter is, often we’re exchanging control of what we’re eating for time and convenience.

Most of my time (and money) at the grocery store is spent in the produce department, and next in the meat and seafood departments. I tackle the aisles last, and that’s just to pick up common cooking staples. If I am buying boxes, bags, and cans, I’m looking at labels. If the ingredient list doesn’t match my shopping list, I’ll likely keep shopping around. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not some health snob, and I certainly don’t always follow my own rules. But I have changed my eating habits enough not to worry about it. I still grab the kosher salt when I’m cooking at home, and sometimes we scramble a bit with seasonings when we’re trying something new, but I’ve opted to give up that bit of convenience for control.

This February, American Heart Month, consider regaining control of what you’re eating. I think you’ll find that you actually don’t pick up that salt shaker as much as you think you will.