Most people know eating healthy is an essential component of taking care of yourself. 

As registered dietitians, we’ve seen how a nutritious diet is directly linked to preventing and managing many serious health conditions. 

For patients with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, gastrointestinal, or kidney disease, it’s the first line of defense in managing and controlling their illness. For everyone else, it’s a tool to prevent those conditions from happening in the first place. 

We call it Medical Nutritional Therapy (MNT), and it can benefit everyone. 

One of the most important things we tell patients about Medical Nutritional Therapy is not to feel intimidated. 

We meet you where you are. That means asking you about cultural preferences, which foods you like and dislike, how much time you have to prepare food, your budget, etc. 

Once we understand those factors, we create a realistic, sustainable plan to support your individualized needs and goals. Everything we do is evidence-based and in collaboration with your physician. 

Even small changes can have a big positive impact — and that is our focus. 

For example, if you drink two sodas daily, replace one with water. Grill or bake meats instead of frying them. If you go out to eat, split large portions with family or friends or take some home to be enjoyed later as a snack or part of the next meal. 

Of course, we know we can’t go with you and make sure you eat what’s on your plan! Therefore, a big part of our work involves educating and empowering our patients for long-term lifestyle changes. 

We discuss how to create a healthy meal plan, keeping portion sizes reasonable, cooking in ways that add flavor with less fat and sodium, and balancing meals between a variety of protein/meat, grains, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. We even talk about how you can enjoy snacks and treats in a healthy way. 

Another way we support patients is through ease of access. 

Some people are more comfortable one-on-one, so our registered dietitians do individual, in-person counseling. Others want support from people going through similar issues, so we hold group sessions led by a registered dietitian. We will do phone counseling or telehealth if you can’t get here in person. 

Again, we realize you’ll be cooking and eating on your own time, so we provide take-home material you can use for easy reference. 

We’ve seen patients with various conditions reduce their reliance on medication, avoid serious complications that may require hospitalization, and prevent or delay surgery by closely following their Medical Nutrition Therapy prescription. 

It also helps patients maintain a healthy weight, increase their energy level, improve digestion, and feel better! 

Changing your diet is challenging, but it is worth it. 

Talk to your doctor if you think Medical Nutritional Therapy can benefit you. They can help you access this important tool in taking charge of your health. 

Jacqueline Daughtry, RDN, LDN is the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Regional One Health. 

To learn more about Medical Nutrition Therapy, call our Outpatient Clinical Nutrition Office at 901.545.7542.