We are all familiar with the expression, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Coined in 1913, it was based on an English proverb that originated in the late 1800s. Notes and Queries magazine was the first to publish the original quote, which was not nearly as catchy: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”
Both sayings have merit. The more fruits you eat each day, the more vitamins and fiber you consume, lead to a healthier lifestyle that could lead to fewer doctor visits.
Registered dietitian Walter Wanas, director of lifestyle modification and preventative medicine at The Wright Center for Community Health, encourages people to reap the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables by eating more of them and adding them as a healthy snack.
“Fruits and vegetables can help you lose weight and provide a feeling of fullness. They contain fibers, which slows digestion and reduces the release of hunger hormones. Soluble fiber helps reduce cholesterol levels and some fibers act as pre-biotic to improve gut health.” Wanas said, outlining the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. “These foods are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, key components needed for our bodies to properly function.”
He encourages patients to look at food as medicine and treat it with that level of importance. By adopting simple changes in your dietary intake and having more fruits and vegetables in one’s home, it will help the family eat healthier and obtain the nutrients everyone needs.
Parents can practice healthy lifestyle modifications by choosing whole fruits over processed, sugary snacks. By adopting healthy lifestyle choices, parents will set a good example for children to follow, according to Wanas.
Karen Papi, a registered dietitian at The Wright Center for Community Health, encourages parents to get their children involved with food and menu choices and to try the three-bite rule when introducing new foods. “It generally takes seven or eight bites for someone to decide if they really like a food, but if they can get the children to try three bites, it’s a good start. I also recommend they get children involved in grocery shopping, picking fruits and vegetables, and having them help prepare meals and snacks. When children feel they have a say in what they are eating, they are more likely to try something new,” said Papi, raising awareness for National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month in June.
With the recent reduction in pandemic-era federal policies, many individuals and families are receiving reduced benefits from Medicare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. With the continued rising costs of food, individuals and families need to be creative to eat healthy.
“Have a plan for how you are going to eat whatever you buy and make sure you follow that plan, so no food goes to waste. You might impulse buy something because it’s a great price, but if you don’t have a plan to eat it, you aren’t saving money,” said Papi.
While grocery stores are the most convenient place to find a variety of fruits and vegetables, there are other less expensive places to shop, such as local farmers’ markets and roadside farm stands.
Many people turn to food banks to supplement their food budget. The Commission on Economic Opportunity’s (CEO) Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank provides food through food pantries in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties. The organization partners with The Wright Center for Community Health to provide food to underserved areas in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
“We have a great partnership with The Wright Center that allows families and individuals to get the help they need with food, right at the health clinic. The Wright Center knows that access to good food is the foundation of good health,” said Mary Ellen Spellman, director of the CEO Weinberg Food Bank.
The CEO Weinberg Food Bank donated 14.8 million pounds of food, including 3.8 million pounds of fresh produce, in 2022.
People do not need proof of their income or expenses to receive food donations from the CEO Weinberg Food Bank; they only need to bring proof of address and complete a self-declaration of need to receive food. For more information or to find the food pantry closest to you, visit, ceopeoplehelpingpeople.org.