Danielle (Grantham) Groves, an Adair County native and a Registered Dietitian with several area Hy-Vee stores, says beginning a more nutritious eating pattern doesn’t have to be a daunting task for anybody.
March is National Nutrition Month, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A 2008 graduate of Nodaway Valley, Groves was initially interested in teaching but also had a passion for the health field.
“I actually talked with [Adair County Health Systems dietitian] Stacie Jones and decided to go into being a registered dietitian because while I may not be in a classroom setting, I’m teaching all day long — I’m teaching adults and kids how to eat healthier so they can really improve their lives too,” Groves said.
One of the first places Groves or any dietitian will take people is to a new visual tool in the nutrition world called My Plate. Many people will remember learning the Food Pyramid in school, but My Plate gives an even simpler look into what makes up a balanced meal.
“It’s a good visual for you to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, then a fourth of your plate proteins, a fourth of your plate whole grains, then add some dairy in there too,” Groves said. “That’s a good general idea of what to start out with, then you go from there.”
There are several misconceptions many people have developed about healthy eating and Groves says most of these are untrue, such as the myth that eating healthier costs more and that low-fat foods are best.
“The more healthy food might be a little more expensive but you shouldn’t have to eat as much because it’s going to give you fuel and things like that. Eating those processed foods might be cheaper but you’re going to be hungry 30 minutes later,” Groves said. “When you’re eating your protein, your good healthy fats and your fruits and vegetables, you’re not going to eat as much as you would with the processed things.
“It used to be all about the low fat things and we’re still brainwashed with those things, but usually when it’s low-fat they add more sodium and sugar to that too,” Groves added. “Sticking with healthier foods, you don’t need the low-fat foods because they’re just adding junk back to it to make it taste better. Our brains are made up of 70 percent fat so our bodies and our brains need that good, healthy fat, so try to stay away from the low-fat things.”
Another strong component to a nutritious diet is watching not only what we eat but what we drink, Groves continued.
“A lot of times we’re consuming our calories and sugars from drinks, so I encourage people not to drink our calories or sugar. Try to stay away from sodas, even diet sodas, Gatorade, flavored waters and juices,” Groves said. “Try and stick with regular water, add a lemon or lime. They also have a lot of sparkling waters that take awhile to get used to, but drink those because they’re not full of sugar. When you’re reading the nutrition labels, look at those and the ingredients. I’d focus more on sugar than calories. We get way too much sugar and that causes all sorts of problems for the body.”
The way to success and a healthier diet is to take things slow and be patient.
“Maybe set some goals and don’t try and do things all at once,” Groves said. “Start out slow maybe with trying to get more vegis or more fruits and things like that.”