• Rebecca Zaborowski


That is the catch phrase, right? It's all about the "healthy lifestyle." But I bet a lot of people are asking, WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN!?!? You read about so many answers that make it difficult to boil down the exact recipe to "get it", but there is a reason for that. The answer is, there are many answers. This is because it means many things to many people, and it should. A healthy lifestyle includes all the positive things people enjoy and love, and we all like different things. Food choices, activity, our stress management tools, it's all there and with all the flavors, hobbies, and ways to relax that exist, it's impossible to have just one solid answer about what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. What we DO know about what it means however, may be much more simple than you think.

I once read a book called Healthier You: A Family Doctor's Guide to the Fundamentals of Better Living by Vineet Nair, M.D. because I heard about it on an EXCELLENT podcast that I enjoy listening to called Sound Bites with Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RD, CDE The Guilt Free RD ®. You can find out more about this podcast here https://soundbitesrd.com or search for the podcast on your favorite listening platform. The episode with Dr. Vineet Nair is episode #109. I highly recommend both the episode (all the episodes really, but this is a place to start) and the book because between the discussion and the actual read, you really get a big picture mindset of what it is to consider what healthy means and maybe it will help you answer the question about what a healthy lifestyle is for yourself. I won't give away the whole book because it's important for you to really "digest" the information on your own (See what I did there?), but I want say just a few things to help you to focus your thoughts until you get the time to read and listen to the recommendations.

  1. Health is not just nutrition. Coming from an RD that sounds weird, but it's true. The food choices we make are just one part of the big picture of the many things that encompass health. For example, you could eat the most perfect diet (if that exists) and never really be in big picture health if you smoke. Sorry, but it's true. Plus, if your teeth are mottled because of smoking, how will you crunch those veggies? I know you know, but just in case, you can read about the detrimental effects of smoking here https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/index.htm You can also find resources at that link to quit if you do smoke. Remember your D.A.R.E days fellow kids of the 80s, and 90s!

  2. Nutrition is not deprivation. When you hear healthy lifestyle, remember the word "life" is in there. This means IT'S FOR LIFE! So in terms of food, it is not "going on a diet" as a temporary thing. Think about this the next time you hear about some quick fix or a fad diet with many rules or exclusions and ask yourself one question, can I do this for life? If the answer is no (which it definitely should be if it is some weird drink cleanse or pill), then it is not for you. I don't know about you, but I don't want the word "quick" defining my lifestyle either. Nor do I want to feel deprived of the things I love, like a rich, dark chocolate. Barring certain health conditions, the nutrition foundation within a healthy lifestyle includes many things that feed both our cells and our souls, without any detrimental or dangerous side effects.

  3. To piggyback on #2, and as my last thought for now, if you are considering making changes to your diet, remember it is just like any other type of change you make in your life or goal you set. Set S.M.A.R.T goals just like any other goal. If you are unfamiliar with this acronym it means Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-Based. You may see a few variations on the actual acronym, but the message is still the same. It means do not just be general and say you'll do XYZ someday. Just saying "I want to be healthy" is not acceptable. It's too broad and it doesn't set the wheels in motion for actual change. How are you going to be healthy? How will you make it happen? Make sure to pick something that you can realistically achieve and then put a timeframe on it so you can revisit and reassess any progress or setbacks. You may think if it was realistic then it's too easy right, isn't change hard? That's the point, it doesn't need to be that hard. Work smarter, not harder, am I right? Use a S.M.A.R.T goal. For example, if you want to eat more vegetables, don't just say you will eat more of them. Say something like "I will eat 1 serving of vegetables at dinner 2 nights a week for 2 weeks." You can even be as specific as choosing the vegetable. At the end of two weeks, assess your progress. How did it work? Then go from there with a new goal to build on what happened. There may be some trial and error at times but it's creating a foundation and just like any house, you can't build on a faulty foundation or it won't last. Take the time, build a solid foundation, make it last.

I do hope you pick up a copy of the book, or turn on that podcast on your next drive. It's worth it. If your kids are in the car though, consider listening to the Playing With Food-Eat. Play. Balance. podcast. Who knew you could learn about nutrition by playing video games!? Thank you for reading and I hope you return again, there is so much more I want to talk with you about!

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  • Rebecca Zaborowski

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Happy National Nutrition Month®! As a Registered Dietitian, I enjoy this month as just a way to bring back attention to what a healthy lifestyle means and maybe dig into some health related topics that I've been curious about. While a healthy lifestyle is not confined to just one month, this can be YOUR month to focus on something healthy that is important to you. Also, being March, it's possible some of those New Years resolutions have already fallen by the wayside for many, but no worries, as the saying goes, there is no better time than now.

Many resolutions begin with good intentions, but as another saying goes, the path to Hell is paved with good intentions. Which, given the statistical rate of those giving up on health related resolutions by February, many probably did feel those good intentions were actually a form of Hell themselves in the form of a fad diet in which they could only eat garlic, or some nonsense like that. While I won't get on my soapbox about fad diets in this post (I'm saving that for later), I would like to leave you with some encouraging thoughts in case you need to start your resolution over:

1. We do not live in an all or nothing world. Just because we want to create healthy habits in our lives, does not mean we suddenly have to eat kale at every meal. We will still like the food we like and chances are, we will see those foods in our world still. So change your mindset. It's a balance that starts with small steps leading towards a foundation of healthy nutrition that contains a variety of foods. Sometimes kale, sometimes cake.

2. As long as we are changing our mindset, we also need to decide that "good" vs. "bad" food creates a fork on our good intention path and both paths end in the fiery pit of guilt and/or deprivation. Let's decide that ALL food may or may not end up in our mouths at some point, some is more nutritious, some is less nutritious, but we will make CHOICES and own those choices based on our goals for ourselves to create a healthy balance in our lives.

3. The third and final thought, balance is ALL OF IT. It includes our eating habits, our playing habits, our working habits, and our overall lifestyle habits. While this balance means many things to many people, I truly believe that ENJOYING food is part of this and as Hippocrates once said "Let food be thy medicine..." and maybe the medicine goes down with just a teaspoon of sugar, not a whole spoonful.

So thank you again for reading and I hope you return, but as always if you can't wait for more, check out our Playing with Food Podcast (for kids, but parents are there too). Click here to listen or search your favorite podcast platform for Playing With Food-Eat. Play Balance. Kid friendly gamer talk with a healthy twist. We'll talk again soon!

For more information on National Nutrition Month® go to www.eatright.org

Image provided by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.



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  • Rebecca Zaborowski

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

As I have said and will most likely say again, there is a LOT of nutrition information out there and it can easily cause us to feel overwhelmed about whether we are doing "what's best". While I don't claim to be a research expert, what I do know about searching for nutrition information has greatly helped me to focus the things I read to find quality information and help filter out a lot of buzz created by the newest fad and I'd like to share a few nuggets of my own learning with you to maybe save you from some scary clickbait. Let me preface this by saying that this is by no means an official list of any sort, it is simply based on my nutrition experience on the internet.

First, there are NO superfoods. Now, before you start rethinking everything you have ever read, let me explain. Many, many articles begin with something similar to "The food you must eat!" or "The one superfood you're not eating!" when in reality, what it should say is "Look at this other nutritious food!" and "Try this food if you haven't yet, it's delicious!" because just one single type of food is not what we need to meet our basic needs, especially if the rest of your diet is less nutritionally focused. We need a foundation of ALL of the nutritious foods out there because they are all super in their own way. Each fruit, vegetable, whole grain, and even herbs and spices, have something in them that may not be in something else. Eating a variety of these with many different flavors on a regular basis is what gives foods their superpowers because not only does each one hold a piece of the nutrition puzzle, when put together, they form a beautiful picture of a healthy eating pattern. So while it's great to have our favorites or it's even okay to end up stuck in a veggie rut occasionally (I can hear the kids screaming at dinner, green beans again!) we can't rely on just one item to solve everything. It will always be our continued choices over time that make up a healthy lifestyle that need to be done for, you got it, life. So don't waste your time clicking on those, they're most likely click bait.

Speaking of articles and click bait, don't just read one article. To find real information, you need to search for the real evidence. While an article may provide a focus on a certain topic or research study, if real research is being discussed, evidence and sources need to be provided and you might want to follow where that research goes before taking the article at face value. Click on the sources to see where they go, read the research papers. Unfortunately, some lead to places you need to pay, don't do that. Check the Balance page on my site to find places that have free research papers available to read. Maybe even check with a local library to see if any subscriptions to research journals are available. In our current world, we tend to underestimate libraries as outdated, but many are just hidden jewels of information and resources that we forget was there. Most even keep a lot of their stuff electronic now and with our current state of things, you may not even have to leave home. It is my opinion however, that good research should be available for all to read, without the heavy price tag to read it, but that's a different soapbox for a different day. In any case, it's important to dig in a bit when really learning about a topic because some articles only take a piece of the research and draw big conclusions on what wasn't even in the paper. Sometimes the sample size in the research is not very big, which makes application to a larger group less effective. Same goes with a study focused on a very particular group. To give you an idea of what that means, if the group study only focused on about 30 people ages 18-25 living in an obscure part of the world, drawing a large conclusion from their experience and saying it applies to everyone can be misleading because this group may be working with parameters that many others may never see in their lives. Disclosures by the writer and/or researchers should also be declared. For example, if research on a product was conducted by the company promoting the product instead of a third party, this should be known to the reader as we may want to take into account any possible bias. It's like as a mom, of course my kid's drawing is the best, it's my kid, I am not an objective judge. Research by a company is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's important to understand where it's coming from.

Last but not least, just because the title says "a doctor said it" does not mean it's not still click bait. I see this all the time "The one thing your doctor isn't telling you" or whatever. Health professionals everywhere plead with you, don't click it. While I am not going to insult your intelligence since you probably already know those articles are fluff, what I will say is that you and your family's health is important. The internet doesn't know you or your family and if you want to talk to your doctor about something you feel they may or may not be telling you, please do so. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, click on something and assume something there is some kind of hidden secret everyone but you knows or try to self diagnosis something based on what you read because again, the internet doesn't know you, but a good medical professional will know what is happening with you and your family and is not going to hide things from you about yourself (provided you don't hide things from them, they need all the information to give the best treatment). Ask questions if you need to, seek referrals if necessary (Maybe find a local dietitian!), but as always, seek real evidence and real people that can work with you to solve issues, not fluff.

So, thank you dear reader, for coming and discussing nutrition with me and as always, I look forward to more in the future, but if you are just still too excited to wait for more, check out our Playing with Food-Eat. Play. Balance. Podcast. Kid-friendly gamer talk with a healthy twist.

Photo by Iryna Ilieva from Pexels, a site to find free stock photos created by talented people and that allow their work to be used everywhere, no attribution required, but look how pretty that is, of course it has to be attributed.

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