CHEYENNE — A Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) representative is describing the vital role nutrition plays in overall health, especially for those facing certain chronic conditions.
Data from the 2019 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System shows 89 percent of Wyoming residents reported not eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day, a statistic that Kacie Hutton, Chronic Disease Prevention Program (CDPP) prevention specialist with WDH, described as alarming.
Hutton said the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating between five and 13 servings per day for optimal intake of vitamins and minerals not found in other foods like grains, meats or dairy.
“Small, sustainable changes to the way you eat can make managing chronic conditions easier and even help prevent their development,” Hutton said. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke are recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as among the leading causes of death in the United States.
“Eating a variety of colorful foods can provide our bodies with the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy,” Hutton said. “Adding variety to your plate not only has nutritional benefits but also allows for some creativity in the kitchen and fun at the table.”
Hutton suggests making small changes to family favorites or choose recipes from different cultures. “Perhaps you or someone in your family enjoys broccoli. Experiment on how many ways you can prepare and serve broccoli. Maybe you incorporate different spices to create a unique culture cuisine or change the method of cooking, either bake, steam or sauté,” she said.
Hutton said people managing diseases such as diabetes or heart disease may have to customize their plate to meet different nutritional requirements. “For example, a person with diabetes may customize their plate to limit the amount of carbohydrates where as someone with high blood pressure would need foods with low sodium,” she said.
“The bottom line is small changes can have a huge impact,” Hutton said.
Tips from the CDC on choosing healthier foods include:
• Ask a friend or family member to join your efforts to choose healthier foods
• Make small gradual changes
• Prepare fruits and vegetables beforehand to make it convenient.
• Consult with a Registered Dietician
Hutton recommended the Cent$ible Nutrition Program offered through the University of Wyoming as a great resource for nutritional tips and recipes. More information about the program can be found at https://uwyocnp.org/.
For more details on WDH CDPP activities, contact Hutton at Kacie.firstname.lastname@example.org.