Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes — How to Actually Start Eating Healthy

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Hello again! Welcome back to Nutrition Notes. I think the hardest part of eating healthily is knowing where to start. Many of us attempt to follow a plethora of fad diets that just do not work because they are not sustainable ways of eating. Others throw away all their food in a cold turkey-rush thinking they will never want sodas, chips, or desserts ever again. So how do you begin to eat healthy so that you can build healthy, long-lasting eating habits? The answer is simple. Start out by making a few small, easy changes to your diet and build your way up over time. Research has shown that small behavior changes can make a significant difference in creating a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Leah Gardner, EPH Registered Dietitian

Here are 10 tips to use to create healthy eating habits:

1. Fill up on fruits and veggies: Try to include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your meals. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

2. Choose whole grains: Opt for whole grain bread, pasta, and rice instead of refined grains. They provide more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

3. Go lean: Include lean protein sources like chicken, fish, tofu, and beans and legumes.

4. Cut back on processed foods: Processed foods often contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, and high levels of sodium. Try to limit your intake of packaged snacks, sugary drinks, and fast food.

5. Watch your portions: Practice portion control by using smaller plates and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.

6. Cook at home: When you prepare your own meals, you have control over the ingredients. It is a fantastic way to avoid unnecessary additives and make more nutritious choices.

7. Snack smarter: Snack on nutritious options like nuts, seeds, or fresh fruit instead of reaching for processed snacks.

8. Stay hydrated: drink plenty of water throughout the day. It helps with digestion, keeps you energized, and can even help control your appetite.

9. Practice mindful eating: Be mindful of your eating habits, such as eating slowly and savoring each bite.

10. Everything in moderation: Remember to treat yourself occasionally but try to make healthier choices most of the time. A good rule of thumb is to practice the 80/20 method- eating nutritious foods 80% of the time and processed or fast foods and treats 20% of the time.

Start by choosing three tips on this list to get you started on your healthy eating journey. Remember that small changes can make an enormous difference! A quick reminder- I offer outpatient nutrition counseling and education services at Estes Park Health. If you are interested, contact your healthcare provider for a referral. If you have any questions or if there are any nutrition-related topics that you would like me to discuss here on Nutrition Notes, please reach out at