Nutrition health: Julie Finney

Julie Finney is the clinical nutrition manager at Mercy Medical Center. The hospital offers nutrition care to patients—many of whom have diabetes—after a physician referral.

Julie Finney is the clinical nutrition manager at Mercy Medical Center. The hospital offers nutrition care to patients—many of whom have diabetes—after a physician referral.

Typically, the first appointment lasts about an hour and includes talking about the patient’s diet and setting up a plan for improving nutrition. Goals might be simple, such as eating more regular meals or adding more vegetables into a diet. Follow-up
appointments, which usually are about a half-hour, are scheduled for four to six weeks from the initial appointment.

The hospital also has a weight management program that combines education with medical monitoring and meal replacement.

Here are some of her tips for people who want to practice healthier eating habits.

Tips for healthy nutrition

1. Eat a variety of foods.

Finney said it’s surprising how many people don’t eat fruits or vegetables, or only eat one kind of fruit. A study from the Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics found 68 percent of adults in America don’t eat fruits or vegetables at least twice a day. And potatoes don’t count—”The vegetables we need are the colorful ones,” Finney said. She mentioned green beans, broccoli, carrots, zucchini and cabbage, which are high in fiber and low in calories.

2. Eat foods that are lower in fat.

Reduce the fat in your milk, cheese and yogurt. When Finney counsels patients, she suggests they drink 1 percent or skim milk. Cheese also should be lower-fat. If you’re going to spring for the full-fat cheese, that should replace the meat in your meal, she said. And stick to lean meats and watch how they’re prepared—a deep-fried piece of chicken with the skin on it isn’t a healthier choice.

3. Watch added sugar.

Finney makes the distinction between foods with added table sugar (bread, cereal, ketchup, salad dressing, desserts) and foods that naturally have sugar in them (fruits and some vegetables, milk). It’s OK to have foods with added sugar sometimes, she said, but it shouldn’t be a habit.

4. Add fiber into your diet.

Fiber is good for your gut and can keep you feeling full longer. Some switches you can make to add more fiber into your diet include swapping white rice for brown rice and opting for whole-grain pasta or bread. If you look at the label, Finney said, the first ingredient should be whole grain. Other foods high in fiber are melons, apples and many vegetables.