CHEYENNE – A representative from the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) describes the critical role diet plays in overall health, especially for people with certain chronic conditions.

2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Monitoring System data shows 89 percent of Wyoming residents said they didn’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day. This statistic has been called alarming by Kacie Hutton, CDPP prevention specialist (Chronic Disease Prevention Program) with WDH.

According to Hutton, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating between five and 13 servings a day for optimal intake of vitamins and minerals that are not found in other foods like grains, meat, or dairy products.

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“Small, sustained changes in the way you eat can help manage chronic conditions and even help prevent them from developing,” Hutton said. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke are recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

“Eating a variety of colorful foods can provide our bodies with the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy,” said Hutton. “Adding variety to your plate not only has nutritional benefits, it also enables creativity in the kitchen and fun at the table.”

Hutton suggests making small changes to family favorites or choosing recipes from different cultures. “Maybe you, or someone in your family, enjoy broccoli. Experiment with how many ways you can prepare and serve broccoli. Maybe you use different spices to create a unique cultural cuisine or change the cooking method, either baking, steaming or roasting, ”she said.

Hutton said that people dealing with illnesses like diabetes or heart disease may need to adjust their plates to meet different nutritional needs. “For example, a person with diabetes can adjust their plate to limit the amount of carbohydrates when someone with high blood pressure needs low-sodium foods,” she said.

“The bottom line is that small changes can have big effects,” said Hutton.

The CDC’s tips for choosing healthier foods include:
• Ask a friend or family member to join in your efforts to choose healthier foods
• Make small, incremental changes
• Prepare fruits and vegetables for convenience.
• Contact a registered dietitian

Hutton recommended the Cent $ ible Nutrition Program offered by the University of Wyoming as an excellent source of nutrition tips and recipes. More information about the program can be found at https://uwyocnp.org/.

For more information on WDH CDPP activities, contact Hutton at [email protected].