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Top 5 Common Diet Mistakes

Today is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day so it only seems appropriate to address some of the most common blunders seen in the diet and nutrition world. It seems every day there is a new study coming out romanticizing which foods do or don’t improve health leaving the general public confused or taking extreme measures to better their diet. Here are some of the many things we see our clients struggle with.

Watch my WZZM 13 segment here!

Top 5 Common Diet Mistakes:

  1. A superfood or excessive intake of any one food can’t replace overall bad lifestyle habits. Consuming copious amounts of goji berries and matcha green tea won’t replace a sedentary lifestyle or fatty red meat intake every day. Practicing a healthy lifestyle and consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy, legumes, and complex carbohydrates are key to overall good health. This, in combination with consistent physical activity will have the biggest impact on your health long-term.IMG_7028
  2. All soy is bad. Whole soy foods, such as soymilk, edamame, tofu, or tempeh, in moderate amounts (1-2 servings per day) have actually been shown to potentially have a protective effect when it comes to cancer risk. One serving is 1-cup soymilk, ½ cup edamame, or 1/3-cup tofu. Soy additives in pre-packaged and processed foods are more along the lines of what you should be avoiding or limiting in your daily intake. But then again, you already should be avoiding too much processed foods due to salt content and overall general health.IMG_7151
  3. Focusing too much on foods you need to avoid instead foods you should make sure to include. This might range from whole food groups, such as carbs or fats, to specific foods, such as red meat, sweets, and “high-carb” bananas. I urge you to find what is going work best for you when it comes to a healthy diet. If you don’t want to sacrifice your red meat, then find a way to get >5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily or keep a conscientious eye on getting adequate healthy fats. IMG_7156
  4. Eliminating an entire food group. Carbs are good, no carbs are bad. Fats are good, no fats are bad. All food fits friends. Eliminating a single food group may work in the short-term to kick-start a diet, but it’s best to have a plan for transitioning back into a diet that is all-inclusive. Fat provides energy for the body to function, insulation for essential organs, helps hormones do their necessary work, and absorbs fat-soluble vitamins. Protein is the building block of muscle and helps repair tissues, while carbohydrates provide the main fuel source for bodily functions and can be the biggest contributor to dietary fiber intake. All food groups have important roles in the body. IMG_7073
  5. Following too restrictive of a meal plan. If I had a dime for every time someone asked me for a meal plan… Turns out, following a diet plan that I create for you is likely not the best option long term. You have to be able to “dodge and weave” when it comes to what life hands you, especially when it comes to diet and following a healthy lifestyle. They are going to be days where a coworker brings in a batch of cookies and you are tempted to dig in. The key is being flexible and not so hard on yourself. There are days you will indulge and days when you need to pass on the cookies. There will be more days where a sweet treat presents itself, but just know it shouldn’t always be a yes to indulging and shouldn’t always be a no to restricting. The key is balance. If you restrict yourself too much, you may find yourself feeling “hangry” (hungry and angry) or completely leaving a healthy diet behind because it was too restrictive to begin with. Focus on 1-2 aspects of your healthy lifestyle at a time, whether that be diet or fitness-related.

Although the news or social media platforms may have their hearts are in the right place when it comes to delivering nutrition information, you need to have a keen eye for the type of research the information is coming from. Do your due diligence and look at multiple different sources if possible. If it came from an animal or laboratory study, chances are we have an idea for a potential relationship, but still have no clue as to how this might work in humans yet. If you are still confused, find a local dietitian to consult with. The website provides a search engine for finding dietitians located near you. We are happy to help answer all your diet and nutrition questions and direct you in leading a healthier lifestyle.


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Plant-Based Diet: How to optimize your side dishes

A few weeks ago, we (as in myself, another dietitian, and our chef at the hospital) finished up our plant-based diet series on WZZM 13. We capped off the series with strategies for optimizing side dishes. In other words, how to make side dishes as nutritionally dense as possible. On average, at least 75% of Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Therefore, when it comes to following a plant-based diet, here are a few guidelines to follow to get the most antioxidant-packed side dishes.

Purchase what’s in season.

Buying produce that is in season or grown locally will not only taste better, but often save you money. What’s in season right now (winter) in West Michigan?

  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Clementines
  • Grapefruit

Buy locally at the Fulton Street Market on Saturday mornings or at the Downtown Market. Kingma’s Market also features produce and protein from local Michigan farms.


Use a combination of pre-cut and fresh ingredients to save time.

Many of my patients find the idea of cutting a whole butternut squash a little daunting and as a result, they often just avoid it. No need! Science is an amazing thing and nowadays there is pre-cut butternut squash along with other vegetables in the produce section. Short on time? Buy a combination of pre-cut and whole, raw vegetables to create a healthy dinner without “slaving” in the kitchen. Note: Pre-cut vegetables tend to break down quicker so be sure to use them within a couple days of purchase. Really, really short on time? Use frozen, cubed butternut squash. You may sacrifice a little flavor, but nothing a little additional seasoning can’t fix. If buying frozen, avoid any frozen vegetables that come with added sauces.


Aim for at least 3 fruits and/or vegetables in one dish.

The key to reducing your risk of chronic disease and cancer is variety! The more variety, the more likely you are to get a broader spectrum of antioxidants and nutrients. By including at least 3 fruits and/or vegetables in a side or main dish, you really pack in the maximum antioxidant and phytochemical power. An easy way to do this is utilizing one-sheet pans! They save on so much time and are perfect for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner.


Try these options below for some of my favorite go-to plant-based side dishes. Keep in mind, any of these can easily be made into an entree by adding a protein (chicken, beef, pork, lentils, beans, tofu, etc.)

Be sure to check out the WZZM 13 visual guide here 🙂


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Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

Tis’ the season for gift giving and receiving. I struggle with this season because I’m going to be honest, I often get wrapped up in the gift giving both literally and figuratively. I am a terrible gift wrapper. These skills do not seem to improve with 28 years of life. Lol.

I have plenty of friends and family that have shared their desire to be healthier this holiday season or start 2018 on a better foot health-wise. This healthy holiday gift guide will give you great ideas to suit anyone this season so you can get back to the most important part of this season: spending time with friends and family or finding ways to give back in your community.

This guide is separated into fitness, food, beauty, and stocking stuffers. Some ideas are for my locals in the Grand Rapids area and some are more generalized to please the masses. Either way, I can bet you will find something that will make someone very happy this Christmas.


  • Monthly subscription to a local gym or yoga studio. Jump start the new year with more physical activity by taking advantage of holiday gym enrollment discounts in your local community.
    • YMCA of Grand Rapids. Waiving the new membership fee starting December 15th. Adult monthly rate $70
    • Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse. 2-week trial $25
    • MVP Sportsplex. No enrollment fee and January month free for new members.
  • Wireless Headphones $130. This is a perfect gift for a new or avid runner planning to participate in 2018 races.
  • Resistance Bands $5-10. This could easily be a stocking stuffer as well. It’s a great addition to a home gym collection.


  • Healthy cookbooks (cost varies). Who doesn’t love a new cookbook with pages and pages of beautiful food and new recipes to sink your teeth in? These are a couple great ones to start with, but truly your options are endless.
  • NutriBullet $60.  Pack in the antioxidants this coming year by blending your favorite fruits and vegetables to make some delicious smoothie concoctions. Be sure to try my turmeric, banana, and ginger smoothie recipe in your new blender 🙂
  • Downtown Market gift card for a cooking class $70-100. This is an awesome present for someone that loves to go out on the town, but needs a little help in the cooking department.
  • Blue Apron or Doorganics gift card $60-240. Another great gift for the amateur cooks that are just getting started on their culinary journey or just want to cook a great meal for their significant other.
  • Vegetable spiralizer $20-30. Spiralized vegetables (zucchini, sweet potato, squash, etc.) as a low carbohydrate substitute for standard spaghetti is all the rage right now and for good reason. Let the experimenting begin!


  • LUSH gift boxes. Made from fresh organic fruits and vegetables, essential oils, and safe synthetics. Not tested on animals. Handmade using little or no preservative or packaging, using only vegetarian ingredients. $40
  • Serenity Heatable/Chillable Spa Mask $20. Take a moment to relax your eyes with this cold or warm mask.
  • Petal multi-use vitamin E oil $30. Say hello to 2018 with glowing, soft, and rose petal-scented skin 🙂


  • Hip circle exercise resistance bands $5-10. Get that booty lookin’ tight and fit for spring break 2018 using these resistance bands while weight lifting or even on their own. 
  • Mortar and pestle $10-40. Know someone who is eager to make their own chimichurri or salsa verde? I’ve got just the thing.
  • Vegetable steamer basket $10-15. Avoid mushy, overcooked steamed vegetables with this handy tool.
  • Avocado slicer $10. Honestly, who doesn’t know someone who loves avocado?! This slicer makes cutting an avocado simple and easy.

Happy Holidays friends!