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St. Mary's dieticians mark National Nutrition Month

Mar. 14, 2013 @ 11:19 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Kale chips and smoothies were on the menu in St. Vincent's Café at St. Mary's Medical Center on Thursday afternoon. The healthy food took center stage as part of St. Mary's team of dietitians' celebration of National Nutrition Month.

"We do this once a year during March, which is National Nutrition Month," said registered dietitian Megan Ahebwa. "It's our opportunity to take a minute and give some general nutrition information to the public and the staff and a way to bring attention to the topic of eating healthier."

At the event, themed "Eat Right -- Your Way, Every Day," a variety of educational displays and booths were available with information on hot topics in health and nutrition. Included were eating better on a budget and nutrition apps for smartphones, as well as food samples and opportunities to talk to a member of the hospital's dietetics team.

"We set up at lunch in the cafeteria because it's a high-traffic time," Ahebwa said. "We find that people will stop by and see us and maybe feel a little more free to step out of their comfort zone and try a smoothie with flaxseed. Who's going to go buy flaxseed just to try it? Here, people will come by and have a sample and pick up some information."

Cathi Taylor was visiting St. Mary's on Thursday and stopped by the cafeteria for a bite to eat. She said it was nice to see an organization that cares for patients focused on caring for its employees and visitors as well.

"We're all too busy to stop and think sometimes about what we're putting into our bodies," Taylor said. "At a hospital at lunch is a great time to assess if your diet is really what it should be."

Approximately 200 people were expected to take part in the "nutrition break" Thursday, but Ahebwa said she'd be satisfied with just one.

"As a community or state, we're almost always in the top three in terms of obesity and other health problems," she said. "If we can reach just one person and get them thinking about their health and nutrition, it can spread and branch out from there. If just one person makes a change because of this, it's a good day."

Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.

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