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Jump-Starting Your Health Focus with a Dietitian

The following is a question and answer session with Northern Arizona Healthcare Dietitian and certified diabetes educator Shannon Heffern, RDN:

  1. How can I make 2020 my healthiest year yet?
  2. You have the power to lengthen your life by making smarter choices! One important thing is not to follow a “diet.” You need a way of eating that’s sustainable. U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Flagstaff Medical Center a No. 2 hospital in Arizona, looked at the top 42 diets in America and concluded that the Mediterranean way of eating was best in terms of ease, flexibility, affordability and taste. There has to be synergy between all these things to make a way of eating work. This particular style of eating involves structuring the food groups for overall health – whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and plant-based oils. Alcohol, sugar and processed foods should all be eaten in moderation.

It’s like what Grandma said, you need to eat your vegetables first – that way, you’re too full for sweets. People want a magic pill, but it’s all up to behavioral change. About four small meals every three to five hours throughout the day should be our focus, not calories.

  1. What are some easy first steps?
  2. Exercise! Also, carefully consider alternatives to fad diets, like the keto diet. Eating breakfast is also a big opportunity – a little dose of carbohydrate, protein and fat within two hours of waking up will jump-start your metabolism. In addition, most people aren’t getting 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day – which is part of the Mediterranean way of eating.

In our country, we have much to learn about basic nutrition and the six essential nutrients – water, vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fat. People go by their first Google search and believe they have found a “food expert.” A lack of education about nutrition is a serious problem. Proper nutrition is foundational to overall health and well-being.

  1. How do I make an appointment to see an NAH dietitian for help and guidance?
  2. Please call Outpatient Nutrition Services at 928-773-2084.

It’s a new era at NAH, shaped by a rapidly changing industry driven by experience, quality and the cost of care. In the new era, NAH is committed to creating an amazing experience for our partners – the colleagues, physicians, providers, patients and other organizations that collaborate to support the health and wellness of our families, friends and neighbors. FBN


NAH is improving health, healing people by providing always better care to every person, every time across the healthcare continuum through services at Flagstaff Medical Center, Verde Valley Medical Center, Verde Valley Medical Center – Sedona Campus, Northern Arizona Healthcare – Camp Verde Campus, Northern Arizona Healthcare – Village of Oak Creek, Northern Arizona Healthcare Medical Group – Flagstaff, Verde Valley Medical Clinic, the Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare, Northern Arizona Healthcare Orthopedic Surgery Center, EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine, Weight Management Clinic, the Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, Guardian Air and Guardian Medical Transport. We also provide comprehensive imaging, laboratory and pharmacy services throughout the region. Many of the services we provide, including The Taylor House and Valley View Care, receive major funding through the Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation. For more information on NAH programs and services, visit NAHealth.com. “Like” NAH on Facebook by searching Northern Arizona Healthcare Flagstaff and Northern Arizona Healthcare Verde Valley. Follow NAH on Instagram by searching Northern Arizona Healthcare.



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