What does it mean to eat a healthy diet? According to Lindsay Watts, a Campbell nutritionist, it depends. Individuals and cultures around the world have different foods that make up a healthy diet. Beyond culture and food tradition, the availability of food varies by community, impacting how a person eats. Even within a community or household, individual health needs vary based on personal goals and values.
Lindsay explains, “While we have global and regional guidance on healthy eating, the way we meet those recommendations is very personal and unique.” At Campbell, we celebrate all of the ways a person can eat healthy and support them as they work to meet their individual goals. This March, we’re celebrating National Nutrition Month® by exploring how food traditions, food access, and personal health goals impact how people eat.
Healthy eating looks different for every culture, which is an important consideration when helping people eat well. Our employees share what healthy eating means to their culture and how they’ve adapted their eating patterns over time:
“In my Cuban culture, healthy eating means being thoughtful about the type and amount of carbs you eat. For example, rice and beans are a staple in Cuban food, but shifting your dish to have more beans than rice helps to increase the fiber of the meal. My family also chooses baked chicken and vegetables—like plantains—for healthier meals, and we use brown rice instead of white rice. These simple modifications can help to keep your plate healthy.” —Mini Rodriguez, Director Human Resources
“Growing up with Irish immigrant parents, healthy eating meant eating a balanced diet with a lot of protein and vegetables. Traditional meals for us included beef stew, roasted lamb, and Irish vegetable soup.I’ve learned to make modifications like adding mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes for my favorites, like shepherd’s pie.” —Dervela O’Brien, Communications Manager
“I grew up in East Africa, where salad is a staple at our biggest meal of the day—lunch! Our main dish was typically rice, pasta, or bread based. In fact, in Africa bread is considered a main meal, not an addition to a meal like it is here in the U.S. Dessert was always fruit salad, usually with mango, papaya, banana, and lime juice. —Zeinab Ali, Vice President R&D Transformation
“My family’s food traditions come from the Appalachia region of the U.S. where healthy eating is focused on home-grown vegetables, canning, and pickling. I make some of the more indulgent traditional meals healthier by reducing the amounts of saturated fat I use in favor of healthier oils, like olive oil, and eliminating deep fried dishes.” —Victoria Branham, Operations Manager
Accessibility, affordability, and food insecurity also play a big role in how a person eats. Lack of food access can make it more challenging to eat a healthy diet, so helping people overcome food insecurity is crucial to improving public health.
According to the CDC, low-income and minority communities often lack convenient places that offer healthy and affordable foods.1 Accessibility is core to our purpose here at Campbell. Lindsay shares, “Packaged foods can play an important role in helping people eat well. Foods like our Campbell’s® Condensed Tomato soup, SpaghettiOs® pasta, V8® Low Sodium 100% Vegetable juice and many others are healthy and affordable options that are widely available.”
One way to address food insecurity and food access is to get involved in the community. At Campbell, we are committed to improving food access for 100,000 people across our Campbell communities and investing in school food programs. Similarly, health professionals can get involved with food banks and community nutrition education programming in their local communities.
Eating a healthy diet can look different based on a person’s health goals, food preferences, and cooking skills. For some, cooking skills can be a limitation while for others, access to the food and ingredients that meet their health needs may be a barrier. Lindsay shares, “Our job as health professionals is to meet people where they are and help them achieve their goals with the resources they have available. This is true whether you work in a hospital, a free clinic, or a food company.” Some people may be able to whip up a healthy, gourmet meal from scratch, while others may need quick scratch cooking solutionsto get a balanced dinner on the table.
National Nutrition Month® reminds us that there is no singular eating pattern that works for everyone. A person’s culture, community, access to food, and personal goals will impact how they achieve a healthy diet.
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