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Nutrition and Healthy Eating

March is Nutrition Month, so it's the perfect time to talk about nutrition and maintaining a healthy diet. Clinical Nutrition Manager Kelly A. Murray breaks down the basics of healthy eating.
Nutrition and Healthy Eating
Featured Speaker:
Kelly A. Murray, RD, LDN
It's Kelly A. Murray, RD, LDN my most genuine desire to help you establish a healthy relationship with food that is flexible, intuitive, and satisfying through adequate nourishment of the body, mind, and soul. She is excited to start this journey with you!

Melanie Cole (Host): Eating a healthy diet can lead to so many benefits. Did you know though that it can also lead to increased energy, happiness, health, and even a longer life? My guest today is Kelly Murray, she’s Corporate Clinical Nutrition Manager with Lourdes Health System. Kelly I just mentioned a few in my intro of things that a healthy diet can lead to. Can you add to the list for us?

Kelly Murray (Guest): You can have more energy by eating a health diet and it makes you feel better about yourself as a whole.

Host: So what should we be eating more of? What should we be eating less of if we really want to attack and double down on eating a healthy diet, what do you want us to eat more or less of?

Kelly: You should be eating more of the fresh fruits and vegetables; anything that is grown in the ground, and we should be eating less of the processed and fried foods.

Host: Now when we hear about disease states like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, they have so much to do with our dietary intake. Tell us a little bit about the relationship to these diseases and what we eat, and how maybe we can change some of that with even diets like the Mediterranean diet or the dash diet.

Kelly: With heart disease, that often goes hand in hand with eating the higher sodium foods, like fried foods, and then with diabetes it often goes hand in hand with eating more sugary foods and even more starches. So you want to make sure that you’re balancing this out and getting more whole grains rather than the refried grains.

Host: People don’t know what to do with vegetables Kelly. They don’t always know if we tell them to shop on the parameter of the store, and they’re not quite sure what to do with kale, broccoli, kohlrabi; these things that they hear they’re supposed to eat. What do you tell them as a nutritionist that they can do with these things and how to find the best ways to serve them?

Kelly: So we often tell our patients here at Lourdes to make sure that you are going around the outside of the grocery store. That’s where you’re going to find the better options of the foods that we want you to consume. There are so many different things that you can do with the vegetables and fruits. I often tell people just look online, get simple recipes. You can bake them, you can broil them, you can steam them. There are so many recipes out there and the internet is great when looking for different recipes to try new foods.

Host: It is and there’s many ways that we can, as you say, get those recipes. There’s so many of them online. When people hear about making a colorful plate, and then they hear MyPlate. What does that mean Kelly? What is MyPlate and how much of each should we have on our plates?

Kelly: MyPlate is the new version of the food pyramid, and we use that as a guideline. So when you’re looking at your plate, it should be half your plate should be fresh fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate should be a starch and a quarter of your plate should be a protein, and then you also have your dairy in the top right corner if you’re looking at the MyPlate picture, and that’s where you’re going to get a cup of dairy a day.

Host: A cup of dairy a day, is it all created equal and also you mentioned carbohydrates, starches? Again, are they all created equal? Can we eat brown rice instead of white rice or sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes? Are there some recommendations for both dairy and carbohydrates that you can recommend to us?

Kelly: Yes, absolutely. You want to do the low fat dairy and not the high fat. So if we’re drinking milk, we want to try and do the skim milk or the 1% instead of the whole milk, and then for carbohydrates, like you said, the brown rice is definitely better than the white rice and then you want to try and do wheat bread instead of white bread and then the sweet potatoes instead of potatoes.

Host: What about label reading. Do you want people to be reading labels, and if we are supposed to do that, what is it we’re supposed to be looking for on the label?

Kelly: People should be looking at the label, but we don’t encourage people to become obsessive over the label. The most important things to look at is the calories, and the carbohydrates and the fat, and I think a lot of people when they’re reading the label, they’re missing the serving size portion. So if you’re looking at a food label and it says serving size is 2/3 a cup, all those numbers below is only for 2/3 cup and people often eat more than 2/3 a cup of that specific item. So if you’re going to be eating a full cup, you’re going to have to do the math to figure out how many calories, protein fat, and carbohydrates are in that food.

Host: So why is that important? And if we’re looking at the labels and we’re trying to figure that out based on the serving size, for some people that’s too much work Kelly. Give us just sort of a guideline when we’re looking at those dairy products or even proteins. They don’t always have a label on them. What do you want us to know about the best ways to eat protein, fish, chicken, meats. It can be very confusing.

Kelly: Right, yes absolutely and for someone who doesn’t know, it will definitely be confusing for them. You’re just looking to really – when you’re looking at the food label, you’re really trying to figure out about how much of all of the nutrients that you’re eating. You want to try and get a good amount of calories in you and protein as well. Protein will keep you fuller longer.

Host: What kind of protein?

Kelly: You can get your protein from meats, vegetables, beans. You want to get the lean proteins. So your meats is where you’re going to find that. If you were going to do, let’s say ground beef, you want to get more percentage of lean than fat.

Host: And what about the fish. Are there certain fish that you want to recommend that are better for us and we hear about omega 3’s and how they’re good for our joints but people aren’t quite sure where we’re going to find those.

Kelly: Right, that’s correct. So your fish like salmon is going to benefit you more than your fish like tilapia. Salmon just has a lot more health benefits than the tilapia does.

Host: Should we be eating wild salmon? Is farm raised okay for us?

Kelly: Yes, both are good.

Host: What else can you tell us about eating a healthy diet, Kelly? Wrap it up for us with your best advice for maybe foods that maybe do contain some omega 3’s that we haven’t talked about, avocados, other vegetables like that. Tell us what you tell people everyday about eating a healthy diet.

Kelly: So we always say moderation is the key. When people are thinking of the word diet, people think that it’s going to be something that’s not fun. We want people to know that eating food should be fun. You should be enjoying it. If there’s something that you don’t like that may be one of the healthier foods, that’s okay but let’s look at what you’re eating that may not be so good and how often you’re eating that. If you’re eating something that’s not so good for you that’s once a week or once every two weeks but you’re still incorporating all those fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, then you’re on the right path to eating a healthy diet.

Host: Thank you so much Kelly for coming on with us today. This is Lourdes Health Talk. For more information, please visit, that’s This is Melanie Cole, thanks so much for listening.