Healthy eating more important than vitamins, supplements and powders

This article is sponsored by MedStar Washington Hospital Center


Thanks to technology and innovation, things happen quickly in today’s world. People are used to fast fixes and instant gratification — even when it comes to things like their health.

Fast-food restaurants are common for a reason. Many people are so busy they don’t want to spend time sitting down and relaxing for a meal. Eating healthy foods and a balanced diet can seem to take lots of effort, so people often convince themselves they just don’t have time.

Vitamins and supplements

Some of those who know they should eat healthier but don’t do so try to compensate by taking supplements and vitamins.

“Not everybody needs a multivitamin,” explains Andrea Goergen, a registered dietitian/nutritionist for MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “In general, I would go for specific vitamins and minerals that you’re missing so that you’re not overdoing it and you can really focus on your food.”

While the preferred method of meeting your body’s nutritional needs is through healthy eating, the U.S. government’s health guidelines note that in some cases, vitamin and mineral supplements or fortified foods may be useful for providing nutrients that may otherwise be somewhat lacking. offers specific suggestions on supplements for pregnant women and the elderly. It also explains that people should always consult with a doctor before they begin taking any vitamin or mineral supplements. Your doctor can order a blood test to check for nutrient deficiencies.

Eating healthy

Goergen recommends filling half your plate with vegetables, a quarter of your plate with complex carbohydrates and a quarter of your plate with protein.

While carbs often get a bad rap, Goergen says there is room in a healthy diet for starchy carbs like whole-grain breads, pasta, fortified cereals, rice and potatoes. The key is moderation and controlling portion sizes.

“I also recommend that my patients dump the dinner dishes and use a side or salad plate instead,” Goergen says. “That strategy will give you all the energy you need, without leaving room for things that are not going to be your friend in the weight-loss or healthy-eating department.”

Advice for weight loss

With more than 70 percent of adults being overweight, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, many people are frequently searching for a diet plan to help them lose weight. As part of that process, many skip meals thinking it will lead to weight reduction.

Instead, missing meals tends to cause the body to slow its metabolism and start hoarding nutrients. In the process, it burns muscle proteins rather than the fat people are hoping to lose. Eating three healthy meals each day will ensure your body gets the nutrition it needs while still allowing you to lose weight.

Successful weight-loss programs should promote healthy behaviors that help you lose weight safely, that you can stick with every day and that help you keep weight off, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease. It notes the most successful weight-loss programs provide 14 or more sessions of behavioral treatment over at least six months and are led by trained staff.

Watch your liquids

While some dieters closely count the calories they eat, Goergen says they might overlook calories from sodas, juices, frappuccinos, sports drinks and more. It’s easy to overdo calories that way and at the same time miss fiber, vitamins and minerals you could be getting from whole foods.

“Lots and lots of fluid — water is your best choice there — can help boost the function of your vitamins and minerals and make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Goergen says.

Dehydration can make you feel fatigued and sluggish. The best way to prevent problems is drinking plenty of water, Goergen says.

Strike a balance

Eating right is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and it encompasses more than just providing your body with essential energy. You should be able to enjoy your meals and find an eating routine you can live with.

If you’re struggling to develop healthy eating habits or you want to find a healthy way to lose weight, consider consulting a professional dietitian for guidance on finding a plan that works for you.

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