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5 Healthy Eating Tips with YWCA Minneapolis Dietitian Katie Gilder

By Katie Gilder, YWCA Minneapolis Dietitian
May 9, 2018
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Nutrition is a complicated topic. With so many mixed messages about eating well, how do you know what advice is best for you? YWCA Minneapolis Dietitian Katie Gilder answers some questions about diet and nutrition to help you begin your path toward better health, higher energy and improved quality of life.

Is there a non-diet approach to healthy eating?

For most people, going on a diet is a short-term thing – they make changes to the way they eat, which usually means cutting out certain foods for a period of time. This can lead to a lot of people struggling to stick to this set of diet “rules,” when inevitably life gets in the way! That is why I have a non-diet approach to nutrition and work with people to think about making changes to their current dietary patterns which will be long lasting and work with their everyday life.

What kind of food choices are optimal for people who are looking to make a change in their nutritional habits?

There are a lot of “fad diets” out there, but as dietitians we tend to steer our clients away from those. I help people make changes that are more long lasting and not as restrictive, so they learn to eat more balanced and still enjoy food. For some people following a plant-based diet, eating a Mediterranean diet or following the DASH diet might be beneficial, but I work with clients to identify the changes they want to make, and how they are best able to get all the nutrients they need without feeling restricted.

How does nutrition affect exercise and vice versa?

What we eat is the fuel for our body and impacts our ability to perform an activity. Not giving your body the proper fuel it needs throughout the day (especially when training or competing in an event) is going to have a big impact on your ability to perform your best.

Exercise has a large impact on our nutrition as well. For most people, increasing activity means an increase in hunger cues, so being mindful of how we refuel after an activity is a big part of the equation. Additionally, there is new research on the impact regular exercise has on a human’s gut bacteria. It will be really interesting as we continue to learn more through research about how connected our guts and brains are and how that impacts our overall health!

What are five healthy eating tips you can share?

1. Learn to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.

A lot of times people are eating based on the time of day or other external cues. Noticing your body’s internal cues is a great way to start eating more mindfully.

2. Think about food as less good and bad.

Research has shown that dieting and feeling shame about “failing” at a diet actually leads to more weight gain for most people. Instead, think about foods you need more or less of and work on making long-term changes to help you achieve that balance.

3. Plan ahead.

You don’t have to plan out everything you eat, but preparing meals for the week, packing your lunch and snacks the night before or even having an idea of meals you want when you go grocery shopping is going to really help you to make healthier choices.

4. Add more vegetables.

Adding vegetables to things you already eat is an easy way to increase your intake. Add peppers to your scrambled eggs, add cucumbers and greens to a sandwich, chop up mushrooms and peppers to add your pasta sauce, etc.

5. Remember that variety is key.

When you eat a variety of foods, you are going to be more likely to have the right balance of different nutrients in your diet. Switch it up so that you have more variety in your breakfast foods. Good protein options include fish or plant-based proteins like beans, tempeh or lentils.  Try new grains like farro, amaranth or freekeh to increase variety and create new meals.

If you have additional questions, please contact YWCA’s registered dietitian Katie Gilder, at 612-215-4184 or

Learn More about YWCA Nutrition Counseling