Shutterstock
I tell people to keep a balanced diet and not go to extremes with it. —Intermountain Healthcare dietitians Kary Woodruff

SALT LAKE CITY — A variety of tools and resources are available to help individuals who struggle to eat right, including the listening ear of a dietitian.

They're available by appointment, to help people solve issues involving food and eating too much, or not eating enough of the right things. Books, Smartphone applications and websites can also be helpful in finding solutions.

Intermountain Healthcare dietitians Kary Woodruff and Erinn Meyer provided help to several callers and visitors to the Deseret News Facebook page, during Saturday's Deseret News/Intermountain Healthcare Health Hotline, dealing with nutrition and healthful eating. For the most part, callers were concerned with how to incorporate healthier eating habits in everyday, sometimes busy and on-the-go lifestyles.

"I tell people to keep a balanced diet and not go to extremes with it," Woodruff, a sports dietitian at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray. She said it is important to make changes that are sustainable long-term.

"Trying something that you know you're going to quit in three weeks just doesn't work," she said.

Diet soda drinkers asked why the no-calorie beverages can inhibit weight loss, as Meyer said. Taste sensors have a hard time differentiating real sugar from artificial sugar and therefore, diet drinks get the body thinking that food is coming, setting off hunger signals that leads to increased food intake later.

Drinking water doesn't have the same reaction, and is actually better, as a tall glass of water can often prolong the perceived desire to eat at times, Woodruff said.

Another way to ensure healthier meals on the go or throughout the day, she said, is to cook bigger meals at night, boxing up portions of it for later. Meal planning is a big part of eating healthy, Woodruff added.

Scores of recipes are available online to help individuals incorporate more vegetables in their diets. Steaming and roasting them, as well as adding a variety of spices, can help make vegetables more appetizing, Meyer told one caller.

"It might take some time to get used to it, but being creative in the kitchen can help," she said.

A couple hotline callers were interested in a 12-week course that Meyer teaches, called Weigh to Health. It offers access to a variety of professionals who help individuals identify barriers to healthy eating, map out better eating plans and work on becoming more active.

Meyer, a dietitian at Intermountain's LDS Hospital, said she consistently refers people to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov, which details the current nutrition guide published by the United States Department of Agriculture. Achieving a balanced diet is important for proper bodily function and overall health, she said.

Intermountain also offers its own program to encourage healthy eating in children and teens, available at www.Intermountainlive.org.

Overall, the dietitians advise people to stay away from fad diets and trends that promise quick weight loss. Establishing a routine for healthful eating and long-term compliance always works best, Meyer said.

The health hotline is offered to readers through a partnership between Intermountain Healthcare and the Deseret News. It covers a different health topic the second Saturday of each month.

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards