Forget about vitamins, protein powders and supplements. Focus on your food!

According to the National Health Interview Survey—conducted annually by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics—Americans spent $12.8 billion on natural product supplements in 2012 alone. Altogether, more than one-half of Americans take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement in the pursuit of better health.

Yet most of us can get all the nutrients we need to live better, longer and heathier right in our grocery stores. And for far less money.

It all depends upon making the right choices and finding a healthy eating style that works for you, long-term.

Food for Thought

Vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fat are the essential building blocks for good nutrition. A healthy diet strikes a balance with all elements working together to help optimize every function in your body. From producing energy to promoting strong bones and teeth to protecting your heart, brain and nervous system, the right nutrition helps everything work a little bit better.  

Fluids also play a large role in overall health.  Your body needs water to boost the function of vitamins and minerals and help you maintain your energy.  If you’re feeling sluggish, fatigued or foggy, you may actually be dehydrated, a far more common condition than you might think. In fact, by the time you realize that you’re thirsty, your body is already crying out for relief.  

But when you quench that thirst, make sure that you’re not drinking up part of your daily calorie allotment in the process!  Sodas, juices and frappuccinos can really add up without contributing much in the way of fiber, vitamins or minerals. Stick to water and save the calories for whole foods.  

Carbs: Friend or Foe?

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, particularly among some weight-loss diet devotees. But the fact is carbs are good for energy production, reducing inflammation in the body and supporting a healthy cardiovascular system.  

Unless you have some sort of major allergy or intolerance, you really don’t need to cut out healthy ingredients that contain carbs. Complex carbohydrates—like those in broccoli, carrots and many other fruits and vegetables—are loaded with fiber, lots of vitamins and minerals. However, many people don’t realize that there’s also room in a healthy diet for starchy carbs like whole-grain breads, pasta, fortified cereals, rice and potatoes.

The key is moderation.

As a rule of thumb, half of your plate should be made up of vegetables, with one quarter devoted to lean protein and the remaining portion to starch. To counteract today’s “supersize” mentality, I also recommend that my patients dump the dinner dishes and use a side or salad plate instead. That strategy will give you all the energy you need, without leaving room for things that are not going to be your friend in the weight-loss or healthy-eating department.  

Three Squares a Day

Many dieters think “If I eat less, I’ll weigh less.” So, they skip meals.  

Unfortunately for them, that’s not exactly how the body works. And worse, it sets them up for failure.

Why?  If your body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs, it starts to panic and goes into starvation mode. Basically, your body slows down its metabolism and starts hoarding nutrients—stored as fat, just what you want to get rid of—to keep a nutritional reserve for the even leaner days it imagines ahead. So, to get the protein it needs, your body starts burning off your muscles instead of the fat.  

There’s a better way.

Make sure you’re eating three meals a day and that each one contains some protein. That will relax your body’s defenses and fulfill its appetite for protein, protecting your muscles from harm while it burns off fat stores for extra energy.

Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements, Oh My!

For the most part, if you’re eating a balanced diet—a good combination of leafy green vegetables, citrus and other fruits, lean protein (including beans and eggs), and some starchy carbs—it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be lacking in magnesium, calcium, B-vitamins and other vital vitamins or minerals.

One exception may be vitamin D. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 33 percent of the population has either an inadequate or deficient level of vitamin D. I’m one of them, and take a supplement upon the advice of my personal physician.  But don’t start taking vitamin D on your own. Instead, see your doctor and get a blood test—the only surefire way to know if you’re deficient.  

Beyond vitamin D, Americans rarely lack enough vitamins or minerals. However, if you experience persistent fatigue, muscle cramping or weakness, tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, nausea or vomiting, you should contact your doctor. Nutritional deficiency could be one of any number of potential causes.

Finding the Right Balance

To establish a healthy eating pattern you can adopt for life, make sure you:

  • Get plenty of vitamins and minerals through fruits and vegetables
  • Consume enough protein
  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Have regular, consistent meals, three times a day
  • Drink lots of water

Equally important, though, is the satisfaction factor: Are you enjoying your meals?  If not, it’s too easy to give up on your good intentions. What you need is a routine you can live with.

So, if you’re struggling to find that right balance or a nutrition plan you can stick with, consider consulting a professional dietitian for guidance. We have all the information you need and can help you focus on what works for you.   

Listen to the full podcast with Andrea Goergen.

12 Tips for Healthy Eating

Many strive to become healthy and eat a balanced diet in the New Year. Registered dietitian Andrea Goergen says, "Remember that the focus doesn’t have to be on food. Keep up your good habits or use the new year to start healthy family traditions! Enjoy reasonable portions of some of your favorite dishes, put together a balanced plate with foods from each of the food groups, stay hydrated, be active, and eat mindfully to get the most out of 2017 and stay on track."

Here are 12 tips to help you keep a balanced and healthful diet in the months ahead. 


Party Snacks

1. Take control. Before any social events like parties, receptions or family gatherings, eat a snack or light meal. You will be less likely to fill up on high-calorie foods. Fasting before an event may cause you to overeat.

2. Keep it lean. Go for the vegetable platter and lean proteins, such as shrimp. Try to avoid creamy or fried appetizers.

3. Bring a dish. Offer to bring a low-calorie dish to the event. It will help your host and your waistline!


4. Pile on the veggies. Fill up on healthful foods, such as vegetables, salad and even fruit, before going for the more decadent sides.

5. Reduce portions. Choose the foods you want to try the most, and eat a small portion of each. You will keep your calories down while still enjoying your favorites!

6. Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to realize you’re full. Slow down and savor your meal to prevent overeating and feeling stuffed.

7. Take a walk. After your meal, get moving! It will help your body digest the food and burn some of the extra calories you ate.


8. Eat in moderation. Enjoy your favorite desserts; just be mindful of portion sizes. Sample small amounts.

9. Share your dessert. Cut the calories in half by sharing with a friend or family member.

Alcoholic Drinks

10. Curb your intake. Have a glass of water after each alcoholic beverage to prevent dehydration and limit consumption. Try not to have more than two drinks.

11. Stick to the basics. Sugary cocktails and fatty, dairy-based drinks, such as eggnog, are loaded with calories. Have a small glass of wine or champagne instead.

12. Provide options. Seek out non-alcoholic beverages, such as hot cider, diet soda and flavored water. They are festive and better for you than alcohol.

Follow these tips for a well-balanced, healthful new year!

Source: MedStar MyHealth Total Rewards

A Healthy Diet Delivered to Your Door

Americans spend less time cooking and sitting down to eat than in decades past. Time is a barrier to a healthy diet—we often feel like we don’t have enough time to find recipes, buy groceries, cook or eat in the right ways.

Meanwhile, 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and an additional 86 million adults live with prediabetes.

These trends captured my attention as medical director of the MedStar Diabetes Institute (MDI), because diet plays a critical role in the prevention and management of diabetes and prediabetes.

Introducing WellRooted

To help address these challenges, MedStar Health created WellRooted, a unique food delivery and nutrition education service. WellRooted makes it easier for MedStar patients and associates to put diabetes-, heart-, and family-friendly meals on the table to have a healthy diet. offers two menus:

  • Cook-at-Home: Free recipes—selected in partnership with MedStar doctors and diabetes educators—plus ingredient delivery via Instacart.
  • Ready-to-Eat:    Delivery of fully prepared meals by Power Supply, a locally launched company with a hub in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area.

With “bite-sized” health and nutrition tips embedded in the website and recipes, WellRooted is an excellent resource for those with newly diagnosed, or uncontrolled diabetes or prediabetes seeking healthy diet options.

WellRooted “meets people where they are” when it comes to cooking—whether time, energy or ability limits your kitchen time.

Making the Menu

All WellRooted meals contain 350-600 calories, 30-60 grams carbohydrates and fewer than 750 mg sodium—while offering delicious taste and cultural variety.

Cook-at-Home meals contain no more than 12 ingredients, can be cooked within 20-35 minutes and use basic cooking equipment and methods. All recipes include step-by-step instructions with pictures. Ingredients can be ordered anytime—even for same-day delivery.

Ready-to-Eat meals are prepared by local chefs, free of gluten and dairy, and contain no added artificial ingredients. The order deadline is every Thursday before midnight, to receive fully  prepared meals the following Monday and/or Thursday.

Trying WellRooted

Cook-at-Home orders for four or more servings start at $30 for home delivery. Ready-to-Eat orders for two servings start at $19 (with pickup at nearby locations) or $23.99 (home delivery).

If you need an extra nudge to try WellRooted, consider the discounts: Enjoy FREE delivery on the first Cook-at-Home purchase, and a FREE meal with the first order of two or more Ready-to-Eat meals.

MedStar doesn’t make money from WellRooted through price “mark ups,” and no subscriptions are required. We’re providing WellRooted because we want the service to be accessible and helpful to a wide range of patients and associates who are interested in having a healthy diet. WellRooted has admirable roots: MDI co-created it with the 2015-16 Health for America at MedStar Health fellows, during a yearlong health innovation program for young professionals.

WellRooted inspires rave reviews. We’ve heard the meals are “wonderful” and made some people “wild for zucchini.” WellRooted has also introduced individuals to grocery delivery in Southeast D.C. neighborhoods, where they previously could only get Chinese food delivered.

So, how will YOU solve a problem like mealtime? Try WellRooted today!

Have any questions?

For more information regarding MedStar Health's WellRooted program, visit

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