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UNT expert has advice on healthy eating

March is National Nutrition Month, and UNT registered dietician Ann Afflerbach has advice for families and individuals on ways to make the most of this year’s theme: Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.

Contact Afflerbach at

Tip No.1: Savor the flavor and move beyond salt and butter to add taste to food.

There are other things you can use as flavors – spices, herbs, onions, garlic and bell pepper can add new flavors to your meals,” Afflerbach said. “Even adding different types of vegetables – beyond your usual – to your meals can incorporate new tastes.”

She added that certain foods, like stews and chili, seem to take more time for the flavors to meld together. She stated that these foods are good to make in bulk to eat through the week or to freeze for later.

“I use a slow cooker a lot, which also helps because I don’t have time to spend on cooking a whole meal,” she continued. “Just keep in mind that for vegetables, the more time you take to cook those, the more nutrients they lose.”

Tip No. 2: Follow the easy rules.

“The focus should be on avoiding things that are high in salt, sugar and/or saturated fat content,” said Afflerbach. “Dietary guidelines recommend 2,300 milligrams or less of sodium a day.”

She said that to meet these goals, you have to be aware of what foods you are eating, and particularly, which ones are high in sodium, sugar or saturated fat.

“It’s about reading labels. Avoid buying a product if salt is listed in the top five ingredients. Also, it is recommended that less than 10 percent of your daily diet come from saturated fats. Similar advice is given for added sugar. The exception is natural sugar. Fruit have a lot of sugar, but it’s a natural sugar,” Afflerbach said.

Tip No. 3: Enjoy food and the social experiences of trying new meals.

 “Really, it’s about exploring new foods and adding variety,” said Afflerbach. “Most of us are creatures of habit and eat the same foods. Be creative in experiencing new things. Try an Asian inspired dish with a good mix of vegetables, but at the same time, monitor how much sodium and saturated fat you’re getting.

“Once a week additions of vegan or vegetarian dishes are a good way to try more vegetables in your diet and up your fiber intake,” she continued.

Tip No. 4: Get the family onboard with a slow start. 

“Like any habits, poor food choices take time to break,” she said. “If a child drinks a six-pack of soda a week, slowly cut back to five sodas and then four until you’re down to zero.”

She added that the technique works for other items and can be used in reverse.

 “With veggies, you can start with increasing the amount at one meal a week and then gradually increase the amount served throughout the week. I also sneak vegetables and even tofu into meals. I don’t always tell my two teens what they’re eating at first, until after the meal. ” said Afflerbach.

Tip No. 5: Continue your progress. A healthy lifestyle goes beyond nutrition.

“Nutrition is important, but we all should be active,” she said. “Moving throughout the day and getting regular physical activity is also important to a healthy lifestyle.”

-- Monique Bird, News Promotions

Posted on: Wed 02 March 2016

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