Your Health Your Choice Eating Program

A new Brigham and Women's Hospital program helps staff and visitors make healthy food choices.

Ever wonder if doctors, nurses, and dietitians practice what they preach? Are they really healthy eaters?

“Healthcare specialists are often on their feet all day seeing patients or performing long procedures, with little down time,” said Kathy McManus, Nutrition Director at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). “That makes it hard to maintain a healthy diet and avoid selecting foods that provide a quick ‘pick me up’ but deliver high amounts of calories, saturated fats, sugar, and sodium.”

In order to make it easier for BWH employees and visitors to choose healthier foods and beverages, the BWH Nutrition Department developed Your Health, Your Choice – a healthy eating program within the BWH cafeteria. Driven by the latest nutrition research and using guidelines from the Harvard School of Public Health’s Healthy Eating Plate, the program features color-coded labeling on foods and beverages, designed to help people to make healthier choices.

“Our goal is to provide easy to reference guidelines that, over time, will help people establish better eating habits,” said Jackie Somerville, Chief Nursing Officer at BWH.

Foods labeled in green, which should be frequently consumed, are low in saturated fats, added sugars, calories, and sodium and are good sources of fiber. Foods labeled in yellow, which should be occasionally consumed, contain low to moderate amounts of saturated fat, no trans fats, and moderate amounts of added sugars, artificial sweeteners, fiber, sodium, and calories. Foods labeled in red, which should be rarely consumed, contain low amounts of fiber and higher amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and calories.

The Your Health, Your Choice committee also is working to measure the program’s effectiveness through surveys and analysis of cafeteria sales – which means that we’ll know if hospital staff are, in fact, starting to follow their own advice.

Would you like to learn how to eat healthier, too? Check out our guidelines.

– Jessica F

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