“How Can We Support Lifestyle for Optimal Health?” by Maria Khaled RD, LD


The focus on lifestyle choices to prevent and treat chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, CVD, and multiple types of cancer, has gained momentum in the past decade. The leading causes of death among adults in the US are related to lifestyle, including tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol consumption.1  The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, two-thirds of all diseases will be the result of lifestyle choices.2  Nutrition and dietary lifestyle is an important element when addressing a need for preventative health and optimal functioning.

With this idea in mind, it is important to take a strong push toward a lifestyle medicine approach to health care and nutrition education plays a primary role in this movement. As a Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Therapist, and Wellness Coach, I feel it is very important to emphasize a well-rounded approach when dealing with clients, since health is the bigger picture.

What is Lifestyle Medicine? “Lifestyle Medicine” is the use of a whole-food , plant-predominant dietary lifestyle, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social interaction as primary therapeutic modality for treatment and reversal of chronic disease. All in all, this boils down to healthy choices for optimal living.

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancers could be prevented, primarily with improvements to diet and lifestyle. As a Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Therapist, and Wellness Coach, I feel it is part of my mission to help clients cultivate their life choices on their way to becoming fit, and even more fabulous, than they already are.  Combating obesity is a major part. Several lifestyle recommendations in order to do this are:

  1. Regular physical activity decreases blood pressure and helps control stress.
  • Eating enough fiber- It is important to eat fiber for weight loss. Men need 38 grams of fiber daily and women need 25 grams of fiber daily. Foods high in fiber include: pears, strawberries, avocadoes, apples, raspberries, bananas, carrots, beets, broccoli, and almost all vegetables and fruits have fiber.  Other sources of fiber include: lentils, kidney beans, split peas, chick peas, quinoa, oats, popcorn. Nuts and seeds also contain fiber. These include: coconuts, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. and all whole grains contain a good amount of fiber. Sweet potatoes (one of my Thanksgiving favorites) and dark chocolate also have fiber.

Fiber is a very important nutrient that aids with weight loss, lowers blood sugar levels and fights constipation. Eating enough fiber daily is required not only for health and weight loss, but for digestive health. The more fiber that you eat, the less you’ll fill up on those less healthful foods. Other lifestyle factors that are important to consider relating to preventative health and weight loss are:  getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, exercising regularly and eating a fulfilling, yet balanced diet. Lifestyle support requires taking a look at your unique situation and the factors that may be limiting your progress towards optimal health and weight loss. Assessing barriers and figuring out strategies to overcome them is what needs to be looked at for success. It is doable with patience, persistence and dedication. Nothing good in life comes easy, but the rewards of health and weight loss are priceless.

Today’s Dietitian ” Using Food as Lifestyle Medication”  by Vicki Shanta RDN, LDN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *