|By Kristen Miller, Enterprise Dispatch Editor
Steps toward living a more healthy lifestyle oftentimes begins with one’s diet and finding nutritious alternatives for the dinner plate.
Julie Starke, a registered dietician with Cub Foods-Buffalo and the Marketplace of Cokato and Annandale, can help throughout that process.
As a free service through the stores, Starke offers individual diet counseling, cooking classes, diabetes support, and Meals in Minutes which offers quick, healthy recipe ideas, complete with a shopping list.
Whether it be goals for weight loss goals, reducing high blood pressure, or managing diabetes, Starke is available for consultations at any of the three locations.
Gluten-free diets have also become increasingly more common.
“We’re definitely expanding our gluten-free products in the stores,” Starke commented.
Starke has been providing these services for 12 years. Prior to that, she worked as a clinical dietician for the VA hospital in St. Cloud.
Purchasing healthier foods can also require a lot of label reading. Starke can help people decipher what to look for by giving grocery store tours.
It’s important to look at the portion size, Starke commented. “What [people] consider a portion, is sometimes much smaller.”
For example, a serving size for ice cream is a half-a-cup.
Starke shows food models to determine what a particular serving size would actually look like. People can then get a realistic idea of what their plate or bowl should be.
Sodium is also something to look at on labels.
Processed foods anything canned and often frozen, heat and eat type dishes are going to be much higher in sodium. However, there is an increasing amount of reduced-sodium foods on the market, she said.
Starke warns though that reduced sodium is only 25 percent less than the original, which can still be quite high. Foods labeled low sodium will be much less, however.
She also stresses portion size and uses the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines.
Half of what individuals eat should be fruits and vegetables, Starke noted. This doesn’t mean they all have to be fresh, however. Starke said that frozen or canned vegetables and fruit are a healthy alternative.
Since canned vegetables can be higher in sodium, Starke recommends rinsing them off before cooking to reduce the sodium content.
She also recommended looking for canned fruits that are in their own juice rather than in heavy syrup.
A quarter of the plate should include whole grains such as brown rice, whole grain bread or pasta.
The remaining quarter of the plate is for lean protein such as chicken or fish. Starke also reminds people that it doesn’t have to be only fresh fish, but that canned tuna or salmon are also acceptable.
Dairy is the other factor, which a person is recommended to have three servings a day of low or non-fat dairy. Skim or 1 percent milk, along with low- or non-fat yogurt are a good choice, Starke commented.
As far as cheese, Starke said one doesn’t have to completely avoid it. Cheese, rather, is a good source of protein and calcium. “We just eat too much of it,” Starke said.
A recommended serving size for cheese is one ounce, which is equivalent to four dice stacked.
She recommends low-fat string cheese, along with farmer’s or mozzarella made with skim milk.
Moving and being active is also a big part of living a healthy lifestyle.
“A person should get some form of physical exercise each day,” Starke said.
This could mean parking farther away or taking the stairs. Also, for those who have desk jobs, Starke suggests getting up and taking a brief walk around during the day.
“Be opportunistic,” she said.
Drinking a lot of water during the day is also very important. “It’s really the most important nutrient there is,” she said.
Plain water is best or infused water with lemons, cucumbers, or mint; anything unsweetened without sugar or sugar substitutes, she recommends.
Meals in Minutes
The Meals in Minutes program has been popular, Starke said. “People really do want to cook healthy meals, but they don’t have a lot of time.”
Each week features different healthy meal ideas.
Shoppers may select a recipe at the customer service desk complete with menu items and a shopping list. Recipes can also be found online at www.cub-marketplace.com.
“It’s a nice alternative to cooking pizza,” Starke commented.
Diabetes support group
Also free of charge, Starke offers a diabetes support group for those either managing their own diabetes or caring for someone with the disease.
The group meets Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Cub Foods in Buffalo.
Lunch and Learn cooking classes
Starke offers free cooking classes at the Annandale Marketplace and Buffalo Cub Foods.
As part of the classes, Starke teaches about different kinds of foods and how to make them for different meals.
For example, the July 11 cooking class focused on Quinoa.
Attendees learned how to cook quinoa for meals at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack.