A nutritious diet is essential if you want to live a long, healthy life.
However, for the one in eight people facing hunger in Middle Tennessee, accessing fresh produce, calcium-packed dairy, and protein-rich meats is a challenge. Less expensive alternatives are often low in nutrients and can have harmful effects on their long-term health.
In honor of Nutrition Month, we spoke with Kelly Troutt, Registered Dietitian and Clinical Nutrition Supervisor at Sumner Regional Medical Center, a part of LifePoint Health, about the relationship between health and hunger and how nutrition is the key to making communities healthier.
1. Why is it so important for people who are food insecure to not only eat, but to eat nutritious food?
Food is the fuel for our body. If we can eat healthy, nutritious food hopefully we can prevent several chronic diseases.
2. People who are food insecure are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. How are these conditions related to the food they eat?
Many chronic diseases are greatly impacted by the food we eat and our lifestyle. People dealing with food insecurity do not have regular access to healthy foods. Most often, they make their food choices based on what is most economical which, unfortunately, is often high sodium, high sugar, and high fat convenience type foods. These choices greatly impact our health.
3. Many people are intimidated by healthy eating. What are some misconceptions people have when adopting a healthy diet?
I often hear people say that eating healthy is “too hard, takes too much time, or is too expensive.” There are small changes a person can do that will make a big impact on their health, such as reducing the amount of food they eat at each meal and limiting fried foods and high sugar items. Eating healthy does not have to be difficult.
4. This March, LifePoint and Second Harvest have come together to celebrate Nutrition Month. How have you seen those in need access nutritious food because of a food bank program?
Our hospital has a food pantry that is served by Second Harvest through our county food bank. I have witnessed on many occasions a patient with food insecurity benefit from this program. Patients are often concerned about the cost of their medical care and how they will be able to afford groceries. The food boxes provide our patients with healthy food items to assist them when they go home. This is one way we can provide support and ease the burden of food cost for our patients in need.
Want to join us in making communities healthier? Help us bring awareness to the relationship between health and hunger this March for Nutrition Month.