Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: 5 tips for getting back to healthy eating
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Are comfort foods and homemade bread experiments messing with your eating plan and health goals? If so, you are not alone.
Standing in the driveway of my neighbor (masks on and 6 feet away, of course) we shared our struggles about getting out of our healthy rhythms. Knowing that I am a registered dietitian nutritionist, he asked, “What do you recommend for getting back to healthier eating?” Here’s my advice.
If you are considering a change in your diet, ask yourself a few questions. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to lose weight? Maybe you’d like to improve your blood lipid profile, have more energy, prepare for a marathon or simply improve your overall health. Do you have the support of your friends and family to make healthy changes to your diet? Do you have the time and focus to make meaningful changes to the way you eat? If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never know when you have arrived.
The bottomline is that there is no perfect eating plan that is ideal for everyone. Each of us has our own food preferences and health issues that need to be considered. The best dietary approach for you should take your preferences, health and lifestyle into consideration. If you have specific health concerns, seek out the services of a registered dietitian nutritionist to help guide you to a dietary plan that addresses your health issues.
Developing healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be overly restrictive or confusing. It is true that many of these popular diets provide conflicting advice, so let’s focus on the universally recognized dietary advice that has a scientific consensus.
• Fill most of your plate with plants. Find ways to include a variety of healthy vegetables and fruits in each meal. Experiment with whole grains like quinoa, barley and steel-cut oats.
• Find more fiber for your diet. Our Western diet is notoriously low in fiber. Most American’s eat far less than the 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber that is recommended. Adding high fiber beans and lentils to your diet can be as easy as having hummus and vegetables for a snack, lentil soup for lunch or including beans with dinner.
• Replace high saturated fat ingredients with healthier fats. Use olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds instead of butter and bacon in your menu. These “good” fats can improve your blood lipids and provide a healthy, satisfying addition to your meal.
• Limit high sugar snacks and beverages. In fact, don’t even buy them. Snack on vegetables and make water your first choice for a drink.
• Replace highly processed foods with fresh ingredients. Processed snack foods, meats and sauces can provide more than half of the calories in a day and are often low in fiber. Their high sodium content can raise blood pressure in some people.
Studies show that people who follow these recommendations have a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and possibly cancer and other chronic diseases. In addition to the health benefits, an eating style focused on whole, unprocessed foods can be a fresh and delicious improvement to mealtime.
Karen Massey is a member of the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition and a registered dietitian nutritionist. She splits her time between Steamboat and living aboard a sailboat with her husband. She writes about both experiences on her blog, LifeInTheBoat.com.
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