March is National Nutrition Month and 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of this nutrition and education campaign to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical-activity habits.

Pen Bay Medical Center has dedicated registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, with the expertise and commitment to help people enjoy healthy lives.

In recognition of National Nutrition Month, here are the top three reasons these dedicated professionals are essential to Pen Bay’s ranking as a national top hospital:

— Pen Bay’s registered dietitians help individuals address their specific healthcare concerns. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, or are recovering from gastric bypass surgery or cardiac issues, the RD can provide the knowledge and skills that produce better health outcomes. If your teenager has issues with food and eating healthfully, a registered dietitian can assist with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and overweight issues. RDs can help new parents be confident that both mother and baby are getting the proper amounts of such essential nutrients as iron, vitamin D, fluoride and B vitamins. Those who want to improve their performance in sports, from high school basketball to jogging, can get information and guidance to help achieve their goals. If you simply want your family to eat healthier foods but aren’t sure where to start, the RD can teach you how to shop and cook in a simple, affordable and delicious way.

— RDs and DTRs are indispensible members of our healthcare team and enjoy the full confidence our physicians, nurses and other professionals. Registered dietitians meet stringent academic and professional requirements, including earning at least a bachelor’s degree, completing an internship program and passing a national registration exam. RDs must also complete demanding continuing education requirements to maintain registered status. As members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, RDs and DTRs have access to the Academy’s world-leading evidence-based library to ensure that their work is guided by the latest scientific research. RDs and DTRs are the only diet and nutrition professionals licensed by the state of Maine and are required to meet high career preparation and continuing education standards. Pen Bay is fortunate to have professionals providing science-based information and guidance in this era of fad diets.

— RDs and DTRs at Pen Bay also work with public health, government, school and other local leaders to create wellness programs that promote healthful eating and physical activity for everyone. They lead efforts to make local foods more available to both improve nutrition and support our economy, and lead supermarket tours to make everyday shopping a part of a healthier lifestyle. With rising obesity rates and soaring healthcare costs a national concern, Pen Bay’s Healthy Lifestyles Program for our employees, is providing solid evidence of the value of wellness programs led by nutrition professionals. The 20 Pen Bay employees in this program taught by Pen Bay RDs lost a combined 100 pounds by just the sixth week, a life-improving accomplishment achieved through healthy, delicious food and moderate exercise. This mirrors the outcomes of RD-led Medical Nutrition Therapy efforts throughout the country and shows that we can be a healthier society and that healthcare costs can be lowered.

RDs and DTRs translate nutrition science into practical and applicable ways for individuals and our entire society to meet health challenges and to life healthier lives. While we celebrate National Nutrition Month in March, the expertise and dedication of Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Technicians, Registered, are of great benefit to the Pen Bay community every day of the year.

Marcia Kyle, RD, LD, CDE, is a licensed registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Pen Bay Diabetes and Nutrition Care Center. She is specially trained in diabetes prevention and management. For more information, call 701-3999 or visit pbmc.org/diabetes.