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Nutritious eating doesn’t have to be difficult

It can be a challenge to help build the health and wellness muscle of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system – especially when it comes to nutrition.

“I usually brown bag it for lunch,” said Renee Masters, an outreach librarian who has organized a free Women’s Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Central Library. “Often, it’s leftovers from something I prepared at home the night before, like a salad and an apple. I try to stay away from the well-meaning co-workers that provide us with cookies and doughnuts and Timbits. I’ve had a lifelong struggle with food. You’re trying to walk the walk.”

Masters, 57, a registered nurse from West Seneca, worked for two decades at Erie County Medical Center and as a visiting nurse before she became a librarian 13 years ago. Her work on the health fair is part of a larger effort to make the library a more valuable health resource.

Q. What is your philosophy of eating?

I fall firmly into the Michael Pollan camp. The three basic tenets of his book ‘Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual’ are eat real food, not something that is processed; if you read the ingredient label you’ll recognize the ingredients. The second rule is don’t each too much – so moderation. He also says you should eat mostly plants. If you follow that, you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Q. What other nutrition books do you recommend?

“Diet Cults: Surprising Fallacies at the Core of Nutrition Fads,” by Matt Fitzgerald. That was quite interesting in its take-down of the paleo fad. Another person I find interesting is Brian Wansink. He’s a nutritionist at Cornell. He wrote ‘Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.’ He set up a program where people came in and ate soup. Some of them had regular soup bowls and some of the bowls refilled without knowing it. The folks that ate out of the refillable bowls ate 75 percent more.

Q. When it comes to the health fair, what lessons do you hope visitors take home nutrition-wise?

That healthy doesn’t have to be difficult, that with a few simple ingredients you can make a very satisfying meal and it can be fast.

– Scott Scanlon

See a related story on next week’s Women’s Health Fair, Page 4.