FORT HOOD, Texas-Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s nutrition therapy clinic is boosting its program offerings with more specialized services and classes to promote lifestyle changes for its beneficiaries.

New this year are specialized services in oncology nutrition, obesity and weight management, diabetes and sports nutrition. The reorganization, according to CRDAMC chief dietitian Ruth Manuele, can partly be attributed to Tricare.

“Certain nutrition services are now covered under TRICARE,” said Manuele, adding that the welcome addition to insurance coverage motivated staff members to become board certified in specialty areas.

This she said, is a win-win situation for all Tricare beneficiaries.

“Army dietitians are generalists, so having board-certified specialists on staff who are working with a specific disease or issue allows us to provide more in-depth care to our patients,” said Manuele, “We can work with people who need group education or individualized services.”

The clinic has reorganized into three lines of services: the Soldier Athlete, Army Family Lifestyle and Medical Nutrition Therapy. Nutrition services for Family members and retirees that were previously offered through by the Army Wellness Center’s Weigh to Live clinic now have been incorporated into CRDAMC’s curriculum.

“We wanted to be more inclusive, so we are now offering more preventative services such as menu planning, food preparation and shopping,” she said. “It’s not just about helping one with weight loss, but also about educating our Army Family on how to make healthier eating fit into their lifestyle.”

The clinic offers classes in medical nutrition therapy for heart health that teaches patients how to manage cholesterol and blood pressure levels through menu planning. Although clinic specialists do not develop meal plans, they do work with their clients’ food preferences to help them design healthier options.

There are seminars and support groups for both pre- and postoperative weight-loss surgery (bariatric) patients. The clinic also offers bi-monthly diabetes management classes, as well as a monthly pre-diabetes class.

Pregnancy nutrition classes to help expectant mothers adopt healthy eating habits to provide essential nutrients to the developing baby are held monthly. A weekly gestational diabetes class helps expectant mothers manage blood sugar to impact the health of both mother and baby.

One area particularly relevant to Soldier readiness is the Soldier Athlete program that offers help in nutrition readiness, meal planning and fitness. Nutrition readiness teaches how macro-nutrients, water and meal time impact stamina and body composition. Soldier meal planning helps Soldiers learn how to fine tune their eating patterns to meet their nutrition goals.

To help Soldiers with weight management, the clinic’s Fit for Performance program addresses lifestyle, as well as nutrition. The program educates Soldiers on weight-loss success, stress management, physical training and mental fitness.

“Nutrition is key to Army readiness,” said Manuele. “People tend to forget about nutrition, but it is part of the Army’s Performance Triad, along with sleep and physical activity. They all work together. If one leg is weak the other legs suffer. Using the Performance Triad, you have an Army Family with better overall health.

For more information on classes, services and appointments, contact the Nutrition Clinic at 254-553-4463.