Lean Health Eating Choices

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Samantha Greenberg, Manhasset Hills resident and dietitian with North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Systems of Manhasset, has been in the business of putting the right things in people’s tummies for over a year and counting; it’s a trait she picked up in her formative years thank to her mother’s guidance, she said. HealthyEating_100314B
“I’ve always been interesting in food and healthy eating,” she said. “My mom was a nursery school teacher, and she always taught about the Food Pyramid chart, and that got me thinking about food…later, when I went to school, I took Nutrition and I just fell in love with it.”
Greenberg recently spoke at the Syosset Library which hosted a lecture entitled “Healthy Eating in the Modern World,” which aims to counteract the rapid rise of nutritionally-bereft cuisine in the American diet. Greenberg notes that people are eating out more and more and cooking at home less and less. Making the right nutritional choices can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for in such a situation, she said.
“There are many ways to eat better when you go out, but you have to know what to look for,” she said. “Most people think a salad is healthy, but then they choose a Caesar salad covered in cheese and dressing instead a packed salad with green leafy vegetables. Plus, you need to stick with baked or grilled foods over fried ones. Order steamed vegetables instead of ones drenched with butter, asking your waiter for whole wheat pasta or brown rice.”
Greenberg is also sour on the national fascination with fad diets. In particular, she is critical of the recent gluten-free craze, which caught on when Celiac disease started garnering increased public attention. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine due to a reaction to eating gluten, and the only effective treatment is following a gluten-free diet. However, this diet has been adopted by many healthy people as well for completely unfounded reasons, Greenberg said.
“Gluten-free diets are only for people who have Celiac disease…there is no benefit whatsoever to a normal person, but some people think that gluten in and of itself is a bad thing when it’s really not,” she said. “And most of the time, gluten-free foods don’t’ even have fiber – they don’t have whole grains, because that is where the gluten is – so it’s not even filling. So you’re getting all those calories and it’s not even filling you up for giving you the fiber that you need. There’s no benefit if you don’t have Celiac disease.”
In addition, Greenberg covered general aspects of healthy eating, including proper serving sizes, eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and staying properly hydrated with plenty of water.
Ruth Wilkie, a Syosset resident, observes a strict gluten-free diet, but to her it’s no fad. It’s a choice born out of necessity, and she made a point of attending that day’s lecture in order to learn more about ways to improve her health.
“I was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease. I couldn’t walk anymore, I had to get a cane because I had no balance, and the fatigue was so extreme,” she said. “When I was finally diagnosed, I was so happy to change my diet…my energy level has changed, and I’m even trying Tai-Chi now! Eating is so important, and that’s one of the reasons that I came to this lecture today. There are so many ‘hidden’ glutens, and I’m hoping to get some insight into that.”
Syosset’s Gerard Foley was another attendee of Greenberg’s lecture, and he noted that recent health concerns of his own have enticed him to tighten up his diet. In particular, he wants to eat out at restaurants less and make the right decisions on the occasions that he does indulge himself.
“It’s so hard, because ever menu at these places is full of enticing foods, but it’s all the hidden calories and grams of far and sugar that get you,” he said. “So, I’m hoping that I can learn what to watch out for when I go out, and how to avoid all the delicious things my doctor says is making me sick. Ah…I’m going to miss cheese and cupcakes.”

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