I’ve always thought that eating as nutritious a diet as possible and not popping a bunch of pills is the healthy way to go and studies have proven this. There is no substitute for healthy foods. Your mother was right, eat your fruits and vegetables!

Did you know that Americans spend almost $12 billion yearly on vitamin and mineral supplements? Some supplements provide little benefit and, in some cases, could be harmful.

Folic acid is essential for pregnant women, calcium supplements can help with brittle bones, and some other supplements help as well. Just don’t think that swallowing gobs of vitamins will make up for poor eating habits. Some can cause harm!

Less may be more when it comes to vitamins. Get outside in the sun for vitamin D; consult with your doctor about supplementing your diet based on health concerns.

For those of you who have health conditions (diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease), I recommend consulting with a nutritionist or health coach. They have up-to-date information about nutrition and can help you put together a plan that will work for you.

Whether it’s weight loss, weight maintenance or managing a disease, professional help is key to being successful. A good health coach is Geri Segal (Geri@breakthroughinfood.com). Gary Kracoff, a doctor of naturopathy and a compounding pharmacist at Johnson Drug in Waltham (gary@naturalcompounder.com), has been very helpful to me over the years advising me on supplementation for weight loss, weight management, menopausal symptoms, sleep issues, etc. Geri has been a godsend when it comes to advise about what to eat for weight loss, food cravings due to lack of sleep, etc. Her easy recipes for healthy cooking are amazing. She should write a cookbook!

We truly are what we eat. The average American diet is abysmal. Too much fat, sugar, sodium and calories. Not enough fruits and vegetables. Astronomical portion sizes! If we want to cut our health care costs, we have to take responsibility for what we put in our mouths.

As we age, our nutritional needs change and we need to change habits accordingly. I can’t eat carbohydrates the way I could when I was younger. My body doesn’t want to metabolize them, it wants to store them as fat and drive up my blood sugar. I’ve had to cut back and make food substitutions. I’m OK with it; it allows me to maintain my health. I don’t want to be overweight, diabetic and reduce my odds of living a long active life.

It takes a little bit of time and energy to figure out what works for you food-wise. We lead busy lives and it seems OK to grab food on the run (and not necessarily the most nutritious), but with planning you and your family can eat well. Veggies in microwave-ready bags, rotisserie chickens ready to eat, fruits and veggies already cut up, salads in a bag and salad bars! It’s never been easier to eat healthy. Granted, it can be more expensive, but you can cut down the cost by buying in bulk, planning your menus and shopping the sales each week at your favorite grocery store.

Speaking of grocery stores, I’ve got to put in a plug for Wegmans, the new store in Northborough. We love it! My husband and I went for the first time last week and we’re going to do most of our food shopping there weekly from now on. We’re heading there as soon as I finish this column (on a Saturday night)! The prepared foods were amazing and plentiful. The prices are good and the customer service is outstanding. You can fit three carriages across in the aisles! My husband picks out his lunches for the week and I no longer have to make him lunch, which saves me time in a busy schedule and he gets to eat what he wants instead of what I think he should eat! You can eat there at the store as well.

The bottom line is if you want to feel good and have energy to live an active life, you need to fuel yourself properly. Otherwise, you drag yourself through your day, grabbing foods that do not serve you well.

Most of us have some knowledge of what we need to do. Sometimes we need a little help to get there. We’re used to asking for help with our health, legal issues, taxes, etc. Why not get help with something so important as what to eat?