Diets and fitness fads are a dime-a-dozen, so what is a Veteran who wants to lose weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and sleep apnea, to do?

VAntage Point recently sat down with Monica Malo, a registered dietitian at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, and asked what Veterans can do to eat healthier and lose unwanted weight. While she said becoming more active is key, Malo also pointed to five simple life-style changes Veterans can do to get on the right track:

healthy plate

Click here to learn more about the Healthy Plate


“Any calorie reduction is going to help a person reach their goal weight. So even if they are eating very large amounts of food, if they cut it by a third or half they will promote a lower calorie intake for them.”


“This can be hard for some Veterans, so I encourage them to reduce the how often they eat fried foods or reduce the amount of fried food they eat at one serving at first. If they’re ready to change the way they cook, grilling and baking will reduce the amount of fats (oil) they consume while still providing the taste and texture they want.”

move fast food

Click here to get fast food alternatives


Water is the best way to quench your thirst and maintain your hydration. What happens when a person drinks a sugary drink, they’re just drinking empty calories that are then stored in the body as fat.”


“When a person begins to eat smaller portions, eating more fruits and non-starchy vegetables can help them eat more food but still keep their calorie intake down.”


“Planning is so important. It’s what will help the person stick to their changes in eating habits. Making sure you have the fresh fruits and vegetables to snack on will keep them from buying fast food when they’re hungry during the day. Planning is also important if they do go shopping or go out to eat. Having a plan, and making a decision on what they will eat at a restaurant before walking in, will keep them from making the unhealthy choices they’ve worked so hard to change.”

Sounds easy, huh? Not so fast. It can be hard for some Veterans to incorporate all of these changes into their lives all at once, which is why Malo suggests changing what feels comfortable at first and progressing from there. More importantly, however, she recommends finding a program with a strong foundation of support.

For most Americans, this could mean spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on nutritionists and “diet food,” but fortunately for those enrolled in VA care, MOVE! – a national weight management program designed to help Veterans lose weight, keep it off and improve their health – can help.

In addition to group sessions, telephone support, and specialty consultations, MOVE! also offers Veterans with MOVE!Coach – a smart-phone app with 11 specialized guides to help manage weight, daily dairies and calculators to determine calorie intake and physical activity.

So, are you ready to take the first step and get started with MOVE!? Take the MOVE!11 Questionnaire at, print your report and take it with you to your next primary care visit.

Good luck!


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Published on May. 6, 2015

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