What should we be eating? A nutritionist explains. by UofL Health Louisville KY

From day to day it can be confusing to navigate the aisles of the grocery store, or the menu of the restaurant closest to your office. You may not know what’s healthy or if it fits into your current diet.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at a number of diets, and the results were interesting. They observed that participants on low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets lost more than others adhering to other diets. But they concluded that individuals should do what works for them and follow a diet they will adhere to in order to lose weight.

But after reading a number of articles on the subject, I still had questions and Nancy C. Kuppersmith, RD, MS, CDE, a nutritionist, with UofL Physicians helped clear up what this study means for those of us interested in healthier eating and navigating diets.

Melody: In general, is “dieting” a bad word? What should we all be doing daily when it comes to nutrition?

Nancy: Dieting is a word, that to me, means ‘temporarily eating the way we are told to eat’.  Rather, eat in a way that fuels our body and keeps it feeling good.  If we pay attention to the effect food has on us when we eat, healthier choices follow.

Melody: How do carbs help or hurt our body?

Nancy: Carbs are part of our fueling system and we do best if we have an adequate amount ‘on board’ so we do not run out of energy. Most cultures, including our own, get between 40-50 percent of their daily fuel needs from carbs.

Carbs hurt our body when we eat more than our body is equipped to handle. In the long run, we see the effects of too much food (protein, carbs or fat) in our lab results and/or scales, but in the short term if we eat too much we feel lethargic and uncomfortable.

Melody: What is a healthy fat? What is considered an unhealthy fat? What does each do to our body?

Nancy: We all need fat to live. Our body uses fat for many processes.  A few examples are fuel, making hormones and cell walls, insulating our overall body and nervous system, and protecting our kidneys.

There are 4 basic kinds of fats – monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and trans-fat. Trans-fats are primarily manmade and are considered unhealthy. The other fats need to be eaten in moderation as too much of any nutrient can be stored in unhealthy places.

Melody: With all the information out there, what advice do you give to people looking to lose weight and/or eat healthier?

Nancy: I really like the wise words of Michael Pollen who has written several books about eating, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  And Evelyn Tribole, RD, who co-authored Intuitive Eating said, “Enjoy eating food. Not too much – not too little. Mostly what satisfies you.” Following that advice helps us to eat healthier and lose weight!

Looking for more information, take a look at this guide created by Nancy C. Kuppersmith, RD, MS, CDE, a nutritionist, with UofL Physicians.

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Melody Kitchen

Melody Kitchen is the director of communications at UofL Health. She has more than 15 years of health care marketing experience. Melody believes that empowering people with health care knowledge enables them to be better advocates for their own health care. Melody received her bachelor's and master's from Texas Tech University.

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