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Reaping the Payoffs of Eating Well

Reaping the Payoffs of Eating Well By Curtis Thill, MD

By Curtis Thill, MD


You typically do it three or so times a day. Sometimes you do it in a hurry. Sometimes you enjoy it, other times not so much. Of course, I write here about the daily task of obtaining, fixing, and consuming food. 

But here’s a critical point. As a physician who has practiced medicine in southern Indiana for more than three decades, I can tell you there is almost nothing more impactful to a person’s life than eating – and especially eating well. Diet and nutrition are imperative in living a life of good quality.

No scolding here

When my patients and I talk about diet and nutrition, I think sometimes they’re a little surprised that they don’t get a stern lecture. As a long-time resident of southern Indiana, I understand the many challenges that people and families face in putting food on the table. Lifestyles, family culture, time availability, finances, location all add up. When one knows that the grocery store – which can be miles away – mostly carries dried-out-food-in-a-box, the challenge often gets higher.

So when my patients tell me that they face challenges in trying to improve the quality of what they eat and practice what we might call sound nutrition, I get it. No scolding or lecturing needed.

What I do often discuss is the link between sound nutrition, quality of life and health, and potential chronic health problems. We look for ways to positively work together to find ways to improve things in daily diets, which will often likely result in unexpected improvements – however initially small – in energy, pep, better sleep, and other good things.

With the spring season moving in, there exist other options to start improving one’s health and diet, especially with fresh fruits and vegetables. 

What’s our goal?

In our rural region, it’s very easy to grab a box of quick-fix macaroni and cheese, add water, and call it a meal. But our bodies need much more than that.

So we’d like to set a goal of deliberately deciding to work in some fresh fruit and vegetables whenever we can. Here are a few ideas. Instead of starting your day with a cookie or sugar-laden pastry, why not try some whole grain cereal or oatmeal topped with berries, a banana or some almonds? Instead of a sugary energy drink, try a glass of orange juice or low-fat milk.

We all occasionally experience hunger pains in between meals. So taking a bit of time and preparing some raw vegetables like carrot or celery sticks in advance – or having a few raw almonds available – can deal with the urge to snack.

When you’re thinking about what to fix for lunch or dinner, try adding in some beans or lentils. They fill you up, they don’t cost much, and their tasty inclusion packs a solid nutritional punch. They also can replace high-fat meats. The same is true of salads. Many salads come today in pre-washed and pre-packaged ready-to-eat bags. Tear open a bag and enjoy – you don’t have to buy the high-priced versions to get good nutrition.

Try your hand at gardening

As spring approaches, think about planting your own vegetables. There are many community gardens in our region, and they often have people who can help. It’s a great family activity and the fresh vegetables help in many ways.

It takes effort – and especially time – to change, but it’s worth it! Start small today and reap the payoff of eating well!

A board-certified family physician, Dr. Curtis Thill has practiced medicine in the Crawford County region for more than 30 years.


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