Helpful Tips To Improve Your Nutrition IQ

Nutrition Spotlight: Wendy Fisher, RD at Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center
Interview by Kristin Richert     

In a time where many of us are staying inside and leading more sedentary lifestyles, proper nutrition has become more important than ever. In addition to more energy, better nutrition can help boost your immune system, increase longevity, and lower your risk of (or help manage) diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and more.  

To learn more about the nutritional realities of residents living in SE Colorado, we reached out to Wendy Fisher, Registered Dietician for the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center. Wendy has been a Registered Dietician for 43 years and has a master’s degree in public health.  

How do patients come to you? 

It’s by referral from their doctor. Then they come in for an individual appointment/assessment.  

What percentage of your patients are seniors (55+)?  

Eighty percent. Most of the patients at the Regional Medical Center are from the aging population. 

Are there any trends you see from those struggling with proper nutrition? 

A lot of the people I see live alone and it’s difficult for them to fix meals. Many eat a lot of fast food and most need to learn how to shop at the grocery store. We used to have in-person grocery store tours before COVID, so they could find the foods they want and could eat. We’d teach them how to shop, where to find good foods, and the sections to avoid.  

Transportation can also be an issue. It’s good to see grocery stores offering delivery now, which is positive. Especially for folks that have a fear of COVID. My 90-year-old mother gets her groceries delivered, and it’s been a huge help to her.  

Any tips you can share for grocery shoppers? 

  • Shop the perimeter first with the dairy, meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables. That’s generally where healthier foods live.  
  • Don’t go to the store when you’re hungry. (Obvious, but it had to be said.) 
  • Make a list before you go and stick to it. 
  • Take your time. Don’t go when you’re rushed.  
  • Slow down, read labels, and get to know the food. Make it a leisurely outing.  

What services/strategies do you find to be the most effective in supporting your senior patients? 

Making it easy. Making it simple. Working with the family is important. If the family all gets involved and takes a big interest, it makes a huge difference. Especially if they are living alone. It makes it a lot harder when there’s no one there to help or support them.  

Any advice for someone who may feel defeated in their nutrition and weight loss goals? 

Take one day at a time. You’re not going to change everything overnight. Think of a few habits you can break now and work on those. When you get those mastered then move on to something else. The weather’s changing now, so I can’t tell people to go for a walk. But I challenge them to find other ways and activities to be involved in. Also, I encourage folks to see their primary care provider. If you don’t have one, find one. (There are providers at the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center accepting new patients – click here).