Advice for Changing Dietary Eating Habits


Simon D. Murray, MD: Do you have any other suggestions for how older people can…do you think a nutrition consult would be a good idea for most older people to get?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Sure. I think most people, in general, don’t recognize that they may have shortcomings in their diet. Sometimes I’ll share a typical healthy day with people. I might have a bowl of cold cereal in the morning with skim milk, and then for lunch a turkey sandwich and some baked chips. And dinner might be broiled chicken with a potato and a little bit of vegetable. I’m like, “Oh, I’m doing good. I have a low-fat granola bar for a snack.” And it turns out they have only 1 vegetable during the day. They might be avoiding certain things that could be damaging their health, so they’re not getting them in. I think most people miss the point of what they’re missing. And so, their body isn’t getting the nutrients they need to really thrive.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yeah. Do you believe that people are capable of making changes in their life? Let me say that again. If you’re going to make a change, is it better to do it incrementally, or to just do it full blast and just do it?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Totally incrementally. I’ve seen the effect of trying to make too many changes at once, and it’s way too overwhelming.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yeah.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: When I work with someone, it’s always 1 step at a time. We may just work on 1 meal. We might work on just their snack. It can be really hard to change eating habits. They’re engrained for years.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yeah.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: To slowly make these new habits, you want to make sure that you’re doing it nice and slow, so they can adjust. As I said before, you have to enjoy what you’re eating in order to stick with it.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Yeah.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Always work with people to figure out what they are going to love to eat for their meals so that we can draft up something nutritious that they enjoy.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Do you recommend a snack or a BOOST supplement? I mentioned BOOST, but do you think Ensure or BOOST are good ways to supplement diet? Or do you think there are other ways to do it?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: I tend to go more toward something a little more natural. One of my favorite supplements for that is a product called Orgain, which is pretty readily found in a lot of supermarkets and Costco and places like that. There’s no fructose corn syrup. It’s a cleaner product with a little less sugar. That’s usually what I recommend. Or if people are capable of it, I help teach them how to make like a healthy smoothie.

Simon D. Murray, MD: That’s a good point. How would you do that? What would you recommend?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: I have different recipes, but basically you include fruit, usually a vegetable, and then some kind of a healthy fat and a protein source. It could be avocado, or it could be almond butter or peanut butter or walnuts that you’re throwing in there. And ground flaxseeds as your fat. That will also give you some fiber. Then I usually turn to a clean protein source. So that would be a plain pumpkinseed powder or a pea protein or a clean whey protein. There are no artificial sweeteners or additives. Collagen peptides are very popular now. You can get this at Costco. You can get it at Target. So you can add something like that, which is also good for the bones. And it has no flavor. You just mix it in.

Simon D. Murray, MD: Is there something you could make a week’s worth of and keep in your refrigerator?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Probably not a week’s worth, but you could make probably 3 days’ worth and keep it in the fridge and then just stir it up again.

Simon D. Murray, MD: That sounds overwhelming to me.

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Yeah.

Simon D. Murray, MD: And all those things, you know?

Jane Schwartz, RDN: Right. That’s where you can turn to just a clean protein powder. You can just mix it with something, very simply, and add some frozen fruit. You know? It doesn’t have to be complicated. Or you get it boxed. If someone is really looking for a boxed version that’s ready-made, there are a couple of brands that are better.

Transcript edited for clarity.

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