Tag Archives: healthy eating

An interesting listen

My apologies for my 2 week+ hiatus. I was traveling Thanksgiving week, and the week after was oddly a train wreck at my house. I hope you had a holiday that was delicious. Mine was.

Freakonomics published an extremely interesting podcast about food a few weeks ago. I highly recommend you listen to it if you get the chance. Or the transcript is also available at the link above. I will only share two of my favorite highlights here.

The first guest recently published a huge cookbook, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. I really liked his last statement on the show:

“Well, I’m one of these people who really thinks that it’s all about moderation. And from the way my book is written, you might think that I eat steak and potatoes every night, but the reality is actually really far from that. So, if I’m going to eat a hamburger, I want that to be the best damn hamburger I can make, right? So that’s where this idea that I’m going to try to perfect these foods, these comfort classics that people love — that you shouldn’t necessarily eat every day, but when you make them you want them to be really great. So, on a day-to-day basis, my wife and I stay mostly vegetarian; we eat a lot of fish, a lot of seafood. We both exercise. So, you know, food can be delicious, but it should also be sustaining at the end, and your health is not really worth that extra serving of burgers or extra serving of creamy potato casserole.”

Sums up so much of my philosophy in a really great way. You don’t have to give up the foods you love entirely. But when you do eat them, eat a good version to make it worth it.

The second guest talked more about nutrition. Jo Robinson is an investigative journalist that focuses on nutrition. As a side note, I find it very frustrating that many people get more of their nutrition advice from journalists, such as Robinson or Michael Pollan, than from dietitians.

However, I did agree with some of what she had to say. She especially highlighted the interesting fact that raw vegetables are not always better for you than cooked vegetables. She also mentioned that steaming vegetables in the microwave is a great way to cook vegetables and preserve their nutrients. Both of these are true and great tidbits to remember.

I hope you have a great, healthy week!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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In touch with your inner caveman – paleo diet review


Through media coverage and people I know, I have been hearing more about the paleo diet recently. I even frequently see food bloggers post “paleo-friendly” versions of foods.

First off, what is the paleo diet? The paleo diet is based on the idea that we would be healthier if we followed the diet our ancient ancestors did before the beginning of agriculture. Basically, a hunter-gatherer type of diet. No grains, legumes, dairy, potatoes, salt, refined sugar, or processed foods are allowed. Meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils are permitted.

Does the diet work? We don’t really know yet. Like most low-carb diets, there is some research showing weight loss or improved blood sugar control while following the diet. But conclusive evidence on long-term health is not available at this time.

My opinion: like all “diets”, it has good and bad points. Getting away from processed and refined foods is a good thing. Eating more fruits and vegetables is also great. I don’t agree with cutting out all grains, legumes, and dairy. Bone health is one of my pet concerns, so I’m never happy to see calcium sources being cut out of the diet. Whole grains and legumes provide wonderful fiber and great protein with less fat than meat.

I also read an interesting comment about the premise of this diet. The author mentioned that there was no single diet in the paleolithic era. People all over the world ate different foods based on where they were. Some people were able to gather wild grains, others weren’t. Stone-age people also often died fairly young due to the extreme conditions they lived under, making it difficult to know if the diet was actually “healthy” in the long-term.

This adds further fuel to my fire. There wasn’t one perfect diet 12,000 years ago, and there isn’t one today. Eat a balanced, mixed diet of foods that will nourish and sustain your body. Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!


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New Year’s Resolutions

I am a big believer in setting goals.  The start of a new year is a great time to re-evaluate where you are in many areas of your life and set some goals for improvement.  I hope you will set some health related goals for the new year among your other resolutions.  Here are some tips I have for making any goals, but they might especially apply to any diet or weight goals.

– Be specific.  Don’t set the goal to “eat more vegetables” or “exercise more”.  A nebulous goal makes it almost impossible to measure your success.  For example, my goal last year was to exercise at least four times each week.  It gave me a specific number to aim for, but also didn’t give me an excuse to sleep in every fifth day.

-Think through the execution of your goal.  Sometimes you will realize a goal is not possible because you aren’t willing to make the changes necessary.  Say you want to pack your own lunch for work every day.  Thinking this through, this requires buying extra food for those lunches as well as probably getting up 10-15 minutes earlier to make that lunch.  If those aren’t reasonable changes for you, don’t make the goal about packing lunch.

-Put your goals somewhere you will see them frequently.  I use a note on my phone for my daily to-do list.  I keep my goals at the top of that list.  It means I have to see them every time I open my list and helps me remember to put those items among my to-do’s.

-Re-evaluate frequently.  You may reach a goal faster and easier than you thought.  Great!  Challenge yourself to something new.  Maybe a goal is harder to attain than you anticipated.  This gives you a chance to think of new approaches.

-Call an audible.  This kind of goes with the last one.  Don’t be afraid to just say something isn’t going to work.  If you set the goal to go to the gym three times a week and you discover you hate the gym, call an audible.  It’s ok to give up on a goal that is dragging you down.  What isn’t ok is to just give up on yourself.  Take what you learn from the failed goal to create a new, better goal for yourself.

What are your diet or health related goals for 2015?  I’d love to hear them in the comments.

For more on “healthy” resolutions, read here.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will will answer them in upcoming posts!


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Beyond vitamins

Salads are a great way to incorporate a rainbow of colors.

Salads are a great way to incorporate a rainbow of colors.

People often wonder if they can just take a multi-vitamin and skip eating their fruits and vegetables. I always say no! A pill does not contain all the phytochemicals your foods do, among the many other benefits of foods over supplements.

Phytochemicals are substances that naturally occur in plant foods. They can contribute to the color, flavor, or odor of the plant. The difference between a phytochemical and a vitamin is that phytochemicals are not known to be essential. A phytochemical can have health benefits, though. You might be more familiar with the names of some of the common phytochemicals than the term phytochemical itself: flavonoid, carotenoid, isoflavones, phytonutrient.

There are many health claims out there for phytochemicals. Some are thought to help fight cancer, such as lutein and isoflavones. Resveratrol, a phytochemical in grapes and red wine, may help slow the effects of aging. Beta-carotene may boost the immune system and help with vision. Research is ongoing on how these substances effect the body and in what amounts.

How do you get enough phytochemicals? By eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables. The color of the plant can correspond with different phytochemicals. For example, beta-carotene is found in dark orange or dark green leafy vegetables. Lycopene is found in red foods, particularly tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit. Anthocyanidins are found in red and purple berries. By consuming a balanced diet with many different colors of fruits and vegetables, you will get a variety of phytochemicals and all of their health benefits.

So make sure you are getting not only your recommended number of fruits and veggies each day, but also make sure there are a rainbow of colors in there, too.  Happy eating!

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Q&A: Holiday Eating


Q: During the holidays, I eat at other people’s homes frequently. How do I eat healthy and control my weight when I am not planning the menu?

A: Great question! The holidays are often a difficult time for making healthy choices. Treats are everywhere, and big meals become the norm. Here are a few tips for eating healthy when you are eating at someone else’s home.

-Make sure your other meals are very healthy. If you know you are eating at a party for dinner, make sure you eat extra fruits and veggies at breakfast and lunch. Then your daily total will still be adequate.

-Eat light at other meals to balance overall intake. However, make sure you aren’t making yourself go hungry. Excessive hunger will just lead to overeating.

-Try and focus on any healthy dishes that are available.

-If you can, stick to one plateful. If this will leave a bad impression with your hostess, take a second helping before you finish your first. I know that seems strange. But, if you add just a little bit of a second helping to what remains of your first, your plate will look more full and you will eat less food.

-Spread food out on your plate. Avoid tall mounds of potatoes. By making food a thinner layer, it looks like your plate is full when you have less food on it.

-If the event is potluck, bring something healthy yourself.

-If you are hosting a holiday event, try to focus on health when planning your menu. Make it easier for others to keep their goals. If we all try to help each other out, everyone’s holiday eating will be healthier.

I hope that helps. The most important thing to remember is that a little splurging here and there in the holidays isn’t horrible. But being conscious of your choices and trying to minimize the splurges will make for healthier and happier holiday season.

Happy holidays and holiday eating!

Also, I just found a new online resource for healthy recipes. Check it out: https://aloha.com/shop/recipes/

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Q&A: Single change

Pensive Pears

Pensive Pears

Q: What is the single thing you wish people would do differently about how they eat?

A: Wow, tough question.

All of us can change many things about our diets. No one is perfect. But I think one change can help bring about many of the other changes: mindfulness. I wish all of us would be more thoughtful and conscientious about what we are putting in our mouths. Even if it is a chocolate bar.


When we are mindful of our eating habits, we are in control of the situation. Control is the key for healthy eating. Whether it is stopping yourself from eating a snack when you aren’t hungry or realizing that a snack you thought was healthy actually has a lot of added salt or sugar. The knowledge we gain by thinking about each bite puts us in control.

That isn’t to say you can’t ever eat an “unhealthy” food. For example, I stopped myself from snacking on Halloween candy last Friday afternoon when I realized I was just bored. I thought through that I would really like to eat a treat while watching a movie with my husband that night. By being mindful of my eating, I was able to keep my sweet consumption in line but still enjoy my evening.

Stop and think the next time you eat. Think about how you feel before, during, and after eating. Ask why you are eating at all or that specific item. Read some labels. Measure a portion size. Even if it causes no diet change whatsoever, focusing on eating enhances the pleasure you derive from your food.

Thanks for the question. Happy eating and thinking!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Rethinking a “balanced” diet

I found this article on the diet of hipsters very interesting. It talks about how hipsters have a hypocritical diet – eating lots of kale and organic food along with high-calorie beer and large amounts of bacon.

The article makes an interesting point about the balance of healthy and unhealthy items in our diets. We all like to think we’ve made enough good choices to justify a treat every night, but we probably haven’t. Also, these things don’t balance out like that nor should you want your healthy/unhealthy scale balanced at the end of the day.  You want it tipped to the healthy side.

I know I struggle with this in general, but even more so recently. I am training to run a half marathon in a few weeks. When I go on my long training runs, my running app on my phone tells me I’ve burned more than a thousand calories. I try to focus on protein and complex carbs to refuel, but I often let it be an excuse for a second dessert that evening.

The article and I are not saying you can’t indulge. We are saying instead of looking at your healthy choice as an excuse to indulge, look at it as a springboard to be even more healthy. Why essentially negate one healthy choice with a bad one? Think instead: I ate a healthy breakfast and feel great, which means I’ll feel even better if I eat a healthy lunch.

Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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National Nutrition Month


March is National Nutrition Month.  The theme this year is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”.  We all know that if we have to choose between eating something that tastes good or something that’s nutritious, we will generally choose the tasty option.  But just because it is good for you doesn’t mean it can’t taste good, too.

Here are some tips on how to enjoy nutritious foods more:

-Try a new recipe.  Sometimes all you need is a different cooking method and something you disliked becomes something you like.

-Have nutritious foods easily available.  Have cut fruit or vegetables ready in the fridge.  Buy cheese sticks or yogurt cups.  The more grab-and-go these items are, the more likely you are to eat them.

-Eat dark chocolate if you need a treat.  Dark chocolate has more beneficial antioxidants.  It is also richer, so it can be a little easier to eat in moderation.

-Start your day with a balanced breakfast.  This can help you prevent overeating later in the day.

-Add some sauce or cheese.  A sprinkle of cheese or a little bit of salad dressing can make vegetables more appetizing.  As long as you don’t overdo it, these can be a healthy addition.

Happy National Nutrition Month!

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What resolution?

It’s the end of January. How many of you have given up on your New Year’s resolutions already? Some stats I found said that only 8% of people are successful in completing their resolutions and only 64% of people make it past the first month.

Why is it so hard to keep our resolutions? It may be that we are setting the wrong resolutions. We may be focusing on a goal that just doesn’t matter that much, when we could focus on something more important and more rewarding. Or maybe the goal is too big or too hard. It can be hard to keep working at something when you aren’t seeing any progress. We forget that we have all year to achieve our goal, not just 2 weeks. We might need to have some sub goals to help us keep going.

Part of my work as a dietitian is help people set goals to improve their eating and lead healthier lives. Here are three common health resolutions I hear people make and some suggestions for how to make them better.

1. Lose weight.
Weight loss can be a noble goal, but isn’t the most practical resolution out there. There are plenty of data out there showing that leading a healthy lifestyle at ANY weight can have significant health benefits. Focusing on eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains and being more active is more important. Weight is just a number. Health is much more complicated than that single number can show. Besides, weight loss isn’t as simple as calories in, calories out, unfortunately. You may find yourself putting in a lot of effort to lose weight with little result if you are only looking at the number on your scale.

So, if you feel that weight loss MUST be your goal, I would suggest adding as sub-goals those healthy lifestyle changes. Add an extra serving of vegetables to your dinner. Go on a walk for half an hour rather than watch TV. Eat fruit for a snack instead of candy. You can achieve these much more quickly than losing weight, giving you that shiny star of success to keep you going until the weight comes off. In the meantime, you will have already made important progress toward living a more healthy life.

2. Don’t eat (fill in the blank).
Eliminating a food from you diet is pretty unrealistic for most of us. By applying that “forbidden” label, the food just becomes more enticing. Our cravings keep growing until we finally cave and binge. I prefer a “moderation” approach. Eat too many carbs? Then try cutting your portion sizes by half. Eat too many sweets? Try sticking to treats only once a week. You can still eat your food, but your intake is more controlled.

3. Get fit.
Exercise is a great goal to have. But please set something realistic for you. Most of us won’t be ready for a marathon by the end of this month or even this year. I admit this is an area I especially struggle with. Last year, my resolution was to exercise 1 day a week. Sad, I know, but at that point in my life, it was a big goal for me. This year, I increased to 4 days a week. Life happens, but I can feel good about getting to the gym most days. A little stretching in the goal is good, but keep it do-able for you.

Remember, no one is perfect. It is never too late to pick up, dust off, and start all over again. Whether it is trying your old resolution again or making a new one, you can do it. Remember, there are still 334 days left in 2014. Let’s make them count!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will will answer them in upcoming posts!


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