Proper nutrition is fundamental for maintaining ideal health. However, as a healthcare leader you already know not everyone knows what healthy eating patterns even look like – which is why it’s time to:
Get A Dialogue Started
One of the most important things you can do when talking nutrition with your patients and clients is get down on their level, always keeping things positive. If your patients begin to feel discouraged or judged, they will not only be less receptive to your advice, but also more resistant to follow your lead. Instead, start with a few simple questions, like:
- “What is a family favorite for dinnertime at home?”
- “Who does most/all of the food shopping and cooking?”
- “What does an average mealtime look like at your house?”
- “What are some of your family’s favorite food-related traditions?”
- “What are some of your favorite beverages, or what do you drink most often?”
- “Has eating healthy ever been challenging, or seemed unattainable?”
This type of information will help create a baseline for each patient and help food service staff provide the most personalized care.
Emphasize The Ease & Benefits Of Healthy Eating
Similarly, the more difficult and/or overwhelming healthy eating seems, the more resistant your patients will be to making necessary changes. The best thing you can do is help your patients understand just how attainable a healthy lifestyle really is regardless of any cultural, financial, or personal factors. Discuss how they can incorporate their favorite foods and meals into their new, healthier eating patterns; and how to make small changes every day that will have a huge impact. Help them understand that there is no real right or wrong way to eat so long as they are focused entirely on using nutrition as the powerful tool it is to improve their health and prevent tragic diseases.
What Exactly Does A Healthy Eating Pattern Look Like?
To maintain a healthy diet, your patients must know how to maintain a balanced diet that includes:
- Whole/Fresh Fruit;
- Grains (preferably whole);
- Vegetables (the more colorful the better);
- Protein (lean meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, soy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds);
- Low Fat/Fat Free Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified soy products);
- Healthy Oils (olive, safflower, sunflower, avocado, peanut, etc.).
They will also need to realize the importance of avoiding:
- Saturated/Trans Fats;
- Added Sugars;
- Excessive Sodium;
Prepare For Opposition
Of course, whether your patients are motivated to improve their eating patterns or not, you will always face opposition so it’s best to be prepared for the questions and excuses you’re likely to face. As you know, often some of the biggest concerns involve trying to afford the right products, not having the time to cook a full meal, having picky eaters in the family, and being hesitant to listen to experts when the truth about healthy eating seems to always be changing. The key is to be open and honest, and speak only to the facts. Help them see you are not trying to change or take over their life, but rather show them a better way to take back their independence and make the most of their lives.
Tips For Success
The most important thing to remember is to have empathy and remember how your patients feel. For them to comply and get healthier, you need to help them realize you are on their side and have their best interests in mind. The last thing your patients need is to feel like they are failing or disappointing someone every time they make a mistake. Instead, encourage them. Celebrate every milestone and success. Positive reinforcement will only keep the progress coming!
Looking for more resources to improve the nutritional intake of your patients and support healthier eating patterns? Reach out to Vision Software today to learn more about our innovative food service technologies! Call 629.777.8989, or fill in the free consultation form in the sidebar, to learn more about how Vision Software can positively impact the lives of the patients and visitors you service every day.