RACH dietitians offer tasty changes for diners

By Ben Sherman, Fort Sill CannoneerAugust 15, 2014

Food for thought
Capt. Deana Lawrence (center), Nutrition Care Division Chief, talks with Lisa Van Brunt and Benny Puente, Sodexo managers, Aug. 8 about the changes that have been made at the Reynolds Army Community Hospital dining facility on Fort Sill. The salad ba... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Okla. (Aug. 15, 2014) -- Nutrition is a vital pillar in the Army's Performance TRIAD, along with quality sleep habits and active physical exercise.

To maintain good health and activity, Soldiers and their dependents must maintain proper levels of sleep, exercise and especially nutrition. If an individual doesn't maintain proper eating to fuel their bodies, all aspects of the TRIAD pyramid will suffer.

The Cannoneer recently sat down with Capt. Deana Lawrence, Nutrition Care Division chief, and Lt. Beatriz George, Nutrition Outpatient chief, both dietitians at Reynolds

Army Community Hospital, to talk about proper nutrition and what changes are being made

at the hospital dining facility.

Cannoneer: What are some of the main talking points of the nutrition part of the


Lawrence: "Some of the main points are to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Fruits and vegetables are usually lower in calories, and lower in sugars and sodium, as well as lower in fat. They are also high in fiber, and fiber helps sustain energy levels throughout the day, which is what a lot of us are looking for."

Cannoneer: "So are there certain foods that are bad?

Lawrence: "As dietitians, we don't want to say that anything is inherently bad to eat, but people should stay away from certain foods, such as those high in fats, sugars and sodium, because they tend to make us want those things more.

The "Go for Green" campaign, which started in 2007 and was pushed out this past June to all of the Army medical treatment facility dining facilities, helps people make good decisions.The campaign uses easy "stoplight messaging,"where green means "go," yellow means "caution" and red means "stop.' So instead of having people have to look at labels, we have already done that for them.

"This is a snapshot of what people can eat a lot of, and what they should only eat once a week and maybe some things they should eat rarely, or avoid all together. So that is a way for people to easily recognize nutrients and nutrient values without having to do any calculations or get into the details of it if they don't

have the time."

George: ""We try not to say that people should avoid any food, but it's really about the amount of that food that they are eating. Smaller portions are better on those foods, and it's not that fried foods are all bad but it's the quantity and frequency of them people are eating. We realize that food is not just about nutrients and performance, but it is about enjoyment and if we take away that enjoyment, we take away the purpose of eating."

Cannoneer: What changes have been made at the RACH dining facility to come in line with the "Go for Green"program?

Lawrence: ""When the "Go for Green" mandatory labeling came out, we made a lot of changes behind the scenes. We did our nutrient analysis, and a lot of our meal offerings were coming up "Red, red, red" and we said 'Wow, we have to have something green out there at all times to show that we have that availability.'

"So we started changing our recipes and formulations putting in a little less high-fat cheeses, substituting non-fat Greek yogurt for the cottage cheese in lasagna, and replacing the sour cream in all of our recipes with non-fat Greek yogurt.You get a little more protein and it is low-sugar and no-fat. Plus it is a good source of calcium as well."

George:"We took the fryers out of the front, so when you first walk in you don't see the fryers and the fried foods. And we brought in our deli and changed it up to where you can now see all of the ingredients, so it looks more like a Subway-style deli. We also expanded what we offer on the salad bar and we have switched to clear plates and bowls, because we often "eat with our eyes." So when you see the food it looks great and you see other people with their food, it just looks more appealing."

Lawrence: ""We have also made other changes in the background as well. On our tuna salads and chicken salads, we automatically use fatfree mayonnaise. All of our deli meats are now lower

sodium and our cheeses are low fat, and our bacon is lower sodium. We offer the options of sugar-free items for our diabetic patients and guests, so they have options that are sweet-tasting or

lower in fat that they can choose. So we now have a lot of variety."

Cannoneer: How are you helping Soldiers, dependents, veterans and Army civilian employees make the proper eating choices?

George: "That's where the education elements we offer to our customers comes in. We have increased the amount of posters we have around the cafeteria, and we have recently gotten salt

shakers that show the amount of hidden sodium there is in foods. People often don't realize how much salt there is in what they eat. So we are trying to tie in the changes we are making in the

dining facility with educationas well."

Lawrence:"Salt, like sugar, is a hard thing to moderate in your diet, because you always have that taste. Those items are such a part of habits in what everyone eats, but we have been able to put substitute items in the meals here that people have accepted."

Cannoneer: "How are you trying to help the Fort Sill community change their eating behaviors and work toward healthier lifestyles?

Lawrence: "In our education efforts we are working closely with the Army Wellness Center to help

Soldiers become healthier and be able to meet their height/weight standards. We are always available to talk to units and Family Readiness Groups, as well as pregnant patients at RACH."

George: "And because our population is so transitional, it is sometimes difficult to build rapport with them and get families to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. The TRIAD has been tailored with key messages for Soldiers, as well as key messages for children and family members. That way we can

get everyone to buy into what they can do as individuals and families."

Lawrence:"Poor eating can be an addiction, just like smoking. If someone in your home or around you is not eating healthy, it makes it hard for you to make good nutritional decisions. It is better if a family can make a conscious decision to eat nutritious foods.

"What we are hoping for, with nutrition being one of the main pillars of the TRIAD, is that people will get excited about the programs and services that we offer. We can market nutrition and get the word out, but it is getting people to want to do the healthy things we offer that is important. We have to tailor our programs to fit individuals where they are, and then help them move toward a more successful lifestyle."