You Asked and Our Nutritionists Answered
For many, ringing in the new year also means New Year’s resolutions focused on healthy eating. Yet, defining what that means and how to do it successfully isn’t always clear. Our nutritionists love helping our customers live healthier, better lives through food, so we asked customers what questions they have. Below are the top questions we received with answers from our nutrition team.
Are zero sugar products really bad if trying to consume less sugar in general?
Some companies are moving away from using the word ‘diet’ on their labels and instead using the term ‘zero sugar’ for the same ‘diet’ products. As sugar is omitted, manufacturers often reformulate the products to have the same general quality and taste that consumers expect, which typically involves adding in other ingredients that may be of equal concern for some individuals. For example, if a ‘zero sugar’ product doesn’t contain sugar but is high in saturated fats and highly refined ingredients, it might not be an option that meets your needs. However, if a ‘zero sugar’ product contains mostly whole or minimally processed ingredients and sugar alternatives such as stevia or Monkfruit, then the product could be an option to help you in your efforts to consume less sugar.
What is an easy way to incorporate more fruits & veggies into my diet?
We think a great place to start is by practicing half-plate healthy. Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies, and half with anything else. It’s a quick and simple way to get more fruits and veggies at each meal while allowing space on your plate for other foods you enjoy. Any form of fruits and veggies count, whether fresh, frozen, dried, or canned. You can find more information here about half-plate healthy and creating a balanced plate.
Other helpful strategies include:
- Prepping your produce early in the week so it is ready to easily add to meals and snacks.
- Keeping a bowl of fruit on your counter. You are more likely to grab a piece if it looks appealing and is easily accessible.
- Looking for opportunities to add veggies to meals, like scrambled eggs, soups, salads, and smoothies.
How can I eat more protein without eating unhealthily?
Protein can be found in a variety of animal and plant-based foods. Nuts, seeds, and legumes are key sources of plant-based protein, but many vegetables and grains provide small amounts of protein, too. Studies have shown that a plant-forward eating approach can be a great way to meet your protein needs while providing other nutrients that support optimal health. Eating plant-forward means making plant foods the center of the plate, but it doesn’t mean excluding foods from animal sources. Seafood, as well as some dairy, chicken, turkey, and lean red meat, can be enjoyed as well.
What foods are good for a vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D can be found in several foods and beverages. Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and some mushrooms – maitake, chanterelle, and morel – are among the few foods which naturally contain vitamin D. Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolk also provide small amounts. Most of the vitamin D in our diet comes from fortified foods and beverages, like cow’s milk, some orange juice, and many cereals, for example.
If you have a true vitamin D deficiency, you may not be able to correct it through food alone. Work with your health care provider to test your vitamin D levels and determine whether a supplement should be considered.
What is collagen and why all the buzz?
Collagen is a protein that supports healthy bones, joints, hair, skin, and nails. Our bodies make collagen to support the growth and maintenance of tissues. Foods that contain protein provide the amino acids our bodies need to make collagen. As we age, we lose collagen and our bodies make less of it. As a result, people might experience joint pain or stiffness, muscle weakness, or papery skin. Collagen supplements may help ease these symptoms in some people, however we recommend talking with your healthcare provider to determine if collagen supplements are right for you.
What is the best way to buy for a low FODMAP diet?
Individuals who can benefit from a FODMAP diet have different tolerances for the types and amounts of food, so there is no one “best way” to buy for a low FODMAP diet. However, we do have tools to make shopping easier. By signing into your account on Wegmans.com or using the mobile app, you can filter your search by “My items” for products that you have purchased in the past. You can also save shopping lists and view past orders. These functions allow you to keep track of the items you know have worked for you, eliminating the need to start from scratch each time you make your shopping list. Several of our stores also carry Low-FODMAP brands, such as FODY Foods and FODMAPPED for You. Select your preferred store to see if it carries these brands.
What foods help boost immunity?
While there are certain nutrients that play important roles in immune function, the truth is, your immune system relies on whole body health to function optimally. To learn more about how your eating approach can support a healthy immune system, visit our Whole Body Health page on Wegmans.com.
What are some healthy on-the-go snacks I can bring to work?
Some of our favorite options for on-the-go snacking include fresh fruits and veggies; dried fruit, nuts, or trail mix (pre-portion into storage bags, or purchase snack packs); cheese sticks; hummus (snack packs are available for a convenient option); whole grain crackers; and Wholesum Bars. Visit our Smart Snacking page on Wegmans.com for more inspiration!
How can I meal plan more effectively?
Our Meal Planning and Shopping Guide has tips for anyone looking to make meal planning easier. Following the four steps of shopping your kitchen, planning your meals, making a list, and stocking for success can help your meals and snacks come together in a snap. Making extra food when you have time to cook can turn one meal into many, making meals a breeze on your busier days!
When planning meals, aim for half-plate healthy – fruits and veggies filling one half, with anything else filling the other. Making fruits and veggies a priority on your plate is a great way to make planning a balanced meal easier.
Do veggie burgers count as a serving of vegetables?
In general, one cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy salad greens can be considered a serving of vegetables. Most veggie burgers do not contain those amounts of veggies or veggie juice, but that’s ok! Veggie burgers can be a delicious option for those wanting to eat a more plant-based diet and can also be a vehicle for more veggies when you pile on toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, or onions.
How do I get my kid to eat vegetables?
There are many strategies to help kids learn to love their veggies! One of the best ways to get them interested in these nutrition powerhouses is to get them involved in everything from planning to prep! Having your child help with meal planning, shopping, and preparing vegetables makes it much more likely they will try the veggies you put on the table.
Keep in mind, kids may need to try any given vegetable up to a dozen times before they actually enjoy it. Try offering the same veggie prepared in a variety of ways, to find one they like. Most of all, be patient – it’s a learning process!
What’s the easiest way to serve my family a healthy meal when we have such busy schedules?
While there are many aspects to healthy eating, the simplest way to “eat healthy” is to go half-plate healthy – filling half your plate with fruits and veggies and half with anything else. This strategy is a go-to for busy families because it is extremely flexible and doesn’t require measuring or counting. We often encourage people to plan meals around their fruits and veggies, but the time-strapped crowd should do whatever works. If you know pizza is the quick and easy option for your night, ask yourself what fruits and veggies you can have with it, whether it’s bagged salad, baby carrots, grapes, or apple slices. When you make your shopping list, be sure to stock up on fruits and veggies that are super quick to prepare and serve. When half of the food you make available is fruits and veggies, you can feel good about the meals you serve your busy family!
Hungry for more? Check out additional FAQs to help you feel your best in the new year!
Kirby Branciforte, RDN; Trish Kazacos, RDN, CDN; and Kathleen O’Herron, MS, RDN are corporate nutritionists for Wegmans Food Markets.