On the Table

Thankful for trendy eating right

CorrespondentNovember 20, 2012 

ENTG-STPATS-BRUSSELSPROUTS-1 KC

Brussels sprouts grow in bunches on a stalk. (Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT)

TAMMY LJUNGBLAD — MCT

On the cusp of Thanksgiving Day, take a moment to reflect about all there is to be thankful for. In the area of food policy and practice, there’s been plenty of progress.

Sure, we’re still a long way from having a food environment that makes it easy to choose health. But we’re getting there.

It’s easier to find the nutrition information you need to make informed decisions, and there are more health-supporting choices in supermarkets and at restaurants.

Eating right is trending now.

Here are some of the signs I see that the food environment is improving:

* Immigrant foods. As demographic changes continue to reshape America, the complexion of our foodscape is changing, too.

It’s bringing new and exciting cuisines based on fresh, wholesome ingredients such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. In Chapel Hill, the kaleidoscope of tantalizing choices at Mediterranean Deli make it one of the rock star restaurants of Franklin Street.

And when Neomonde sets up shop at the State Fair, you know times have changed – in a good way.

* Portions-lite. From tapas to dim sum, it’s easier to order and eat less when you go out.

I’m noticing more half-portion entree options on menus and wait staff cheerfully agreeing to split the plate.

* Good food fads. Brussels sprouts are showing up everywhere – on foot-long stalks, baked with balsamic vinegar, and fresh frozen at the supermarket.

Throw in the quinoa, heirloom tomatoes, almond milk and gluten-free crackers and hope the fashion doesn’t go out of style.

* Soft drink bans and other bold moves. Young people have rallied around Food Day as an annual event, and Harvard University proposed an alternative Healthy Eating Plate that shows water, not milk, as the recommended beverage with meals.

There’s a new independent news organization – NC Health News – covering health care in our state, including news you can use about food safety and more.

And whether you agree with the tactic, let’s hear it for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. If it takes two hands to hold your drink, your cup is too big and your pants aren’t far behind.

The changes are coming and I look forward to more. Big or small, I am thankful for them all.

Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a licensed, registered dietitian and clinical associate professor in the Departments of Health Policy and Management and Nutrition in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Send questions and comments to [add email here] and follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.

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