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Dietitian nutritionist teaches how to eat smart and become supermarket savvy

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Your New Year's resolution: Eat healthy.

No more fast food, chips, soda, cakes or cookies, only organic foods.

You’re determined to stay disciplined, but the thought of soy cheese repels you. Tofu and quinoa sound strange and unappetizing. And a trip to the supermarket seems more like a daunting task.

“You can’t change everything at once,” says Melissa Herrmann Dierks, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Huntersville, North Carolina-based Eat Smart Nutrition Company. "The key with healthy grocery shopping is that all foods can fit in moderation. So, it's not like people have to go to the store and buy things they don’t like.”

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the following goals constitute a healthy diet:

• Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight.
• Consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood.
• Consume fewer foods with sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains.

"What we're going for is balance,” says Dierks. "We're trying to get all of the components that will fuel your body so you have energy. It will help keep your blood sugar more stable and your diet more heart-healthy."

Since 1987, Dierks, who’s also a certified diabetes educator and a consultant to the food and beverage industry including Coca Cola, has customized meal plans for her clients to help them achieve their nutritional goals.

She also conducts supermarket tours using the Supermarket Savvy Brand-Name Shopping List and the Nutrition Facts Label to help clients make healthier choices.

However, Dierks discourages buying foods containing trans fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. “We want the more healthy fats, the monounsaturated fats like almonds, avocados, olive oil,” she says.

Dierks also advises her clients how to manage food costs. "One of the things is to leave the junk food out of the buggy,” she says. “It leaves more money for the healthy things. Instead of getting bigger packs of steak or chicken, get smaller servings.”

Although Dierks enjoys helping people in general shop healthy, her primary focus is people with diabetes. “There's such a pandemic of diabetes,” she says. "It's something people can actually make some changes to improve.”

For more information about supermarket tours, contact Lake Norman Nutrition Associates at 704-895-9865.

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