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Hospital tries new approach to promote healthy eating

Inpatients at five Wellmont hospitals who receive meals in their rooms now receive a liner on their tray that provides beneficial information about which healthy foods and portion sizes to incorporate in one’s diet. They are available at Holston Valley Medical Center, Bristol Regional Medical Center, Mountain View Regional Medical Center, Lonesome Pine Hospital and Hawkins County Memorial Hospital.

The hospitals’ cafeterias dispense helpful information in other ways, such as table messages, information cards, trifold pamphlets and laminated foam boards on a wall. Holston Valley is displaying a banner where customers receive their food from servers.

“This is an outstanding project to guide our patients and the community about ways they can enjoy a fulfilling meal that also enhances their health,” said Eric Deaton, Wellmont’s chief operating officer. “Sometimes, people don’t give a lot of thought about the food they eat until they experience a health issue or recognize they need to lose weight. Through this project, people have an opportunity to consider the optimal foods to include in their diet.”

Wellmont Diabetes Treatment Centers spearheaded the addition of these materials in the hospitals. The project was the brainchild of Carol Carter, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for the centers, and Cindy Stidham, executive director of patient care services at Mountain View Regional and Lonesome Pine. Stacey Bedingfield, general manager of food and nutrition services at Holston Valley, also played a major role in making the project a reality.

“We’re excited to launch this project, which will empower people to analyze their eating patterns and determine what changes might be appropriate,” said Jim Perkins, director of the diabetes treatment centers. “While the messages on the liners and the other materials are pertinent to everyone, they are especially helpful to those who have diabetes or might be on the cusp of developing the disease. We encourage people to avail themselves of this dietary information that could have a meaningful impact on their lives.”

The tray liner details the MyPlate concept, which is based on guidelines from the federal government and tells people to divide a plate into three sections. It recommends half of the plate be filled with nonstarchy items, such as a salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes. One quarter of the plate should contain protein foods, such as fish, chicken, eggs, tofu and lean red meat, and the other quarter should be set aside for starchy foods, such as noodles, brown rice, corn, beans and potatoes.

Another recommendation is adding a serving of fruit or dairy – or both if the patient’s hospital meal plan permits. The best fruits are fresh, frozen or canned in juice or light syrup, and the preferred milk is skim, one-half percent or soy. Low-fat or fat-free yogurt is another healthy menu choice. In the plate method, the best beverages are water, unsweetened tea or coffee.

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