Top tips to planning a balanced diet

, , , , , , , , ,

We’ve spent the last year inside and unfortunately eating habits have suffered and trips to the gym have been replaced with Netflix binging. The snow is melting and the cold of winter is quickly being replaced with spring fever. Now is the perfect time to start rethinking the foods we put into our bodies. So, drop that donut and use these tips to build a balanced diet that can easily be the platform for overall better living.

The great restock

Every fitness guru out there usually starts a new diet and exercise routine by clearing out the kitchen. Grab a donation box and fill it with soda, candy, and various other junk food classics. You don’t need them anymore, instead replace them with eggs, canned beans, frozen vegetables, rice, and oats. Packing your cupboards and fridge with healthy choices is the first step to healthier living. Another great tip is to vary your produce. Buy produce that lasts longer like carrots and potatoes. Then supplement these staples items with faster-spoiling items bananas and grapes. This cuts down on waste and gives you a range of choices for snack time.

Before you run out the door to buy a plethora of greens and grapes, take the time to make a list. The list should be composed of primarily healthy items. The aimless exploring of the grocery store is how cookies and ice cream find their way into your cart.

Having a varied diet is a great way of maintaining body weight.

Respect the food groups!

Just like we learned in elementary school. The food pyramid is an excellent guide for developing a balanced diet. Make sure to have a generous portion of whole-grain starches along with fruits and vegetables. Make sure your diet has a lot of color! Low-fat dairy and lean proteins come next. These vital food groups build your muscles and bones so don’t forget them. Don’t worry, the occasional bit of sugar isn’t that end of the world but remember to enjoy it in moderation. is an excellent resource for choosing healthy food and understanding portion sizes.

Processed carbohydrates

Refined sugar has been the downfall of many diets and meal plans. A life without pizza and candy sounds terrifying to some so we don’t want you to give up all your surgery treats but societally we need to eat less processed carbohydrates. Sugary beverages like soda and energy drinks are especially harmful and are a contributing factor to rising obesity numbers. Water should always be your main choice of hydration.

Tri-County Health Care Registered Dietitian Shelby Hunke. recommends having carbohydrate-based snacks rarely, around one to two times a week.

Registered Dietitian Tri-County Health Care Balanced Diet

Shelby Hunke, Tri-County Health Care Registered Dietitian

It’s a lifestyle change

The very idea of a diet chills some to the bone. Don’t look at it as an arbitrary set of eating rules but instead a lifestyle change. Go on the adventure of better living and find healthy foods you enjoy eating; they do exist. Then get support from family and friends. You don’t have to go it alone and finding someone to try that new kale smoothie with can help a great deal. If you need further assistance consider setting up an appointment with a dietitian. They have the professional expertise to get you started right.

Tri-County Health Care hosts a diabetes prevention class and in the most recent meeting, participants lost a total of 125 pounds. The nine participants lost this massive amount of weight over the course of 16 classes. These classes work on strategies to eat better while increasing physical activity.

Try something new

Get your new balanced diet kicked off right! Try this garlic parmesan asparagus recipe hand-picked by Shelby! Use the link below for step-by-step instructions:

Garlic Parmesan Asparagus Recipe: How to Make It | Taste of Home

Don’t give up!

People get burned out on a new diet and expect immediate success. It’s the journey, not necessarily the destination. Crash dieting is often the pitfall people fall into. Set attainable goals and cut back rather than going cold turkey. Cut down to one energy drink a week instead of cutting them out completely. Take it slow and steady to avoid intense cravings and binging. Set mini-goals, meet them, then set new goals.

Use March to revaluate your lifestyle and eating habits. If you need help, please schedule an appointment with a dietitian at Tri-County Health Care by calling 218-632-7115

Nine ways to appeal to a picky eater

, ,

By Shelby Hunke, Registered Dietitian


As National Nutrition Month, March is a great time to examine the food choices you’re making and how you can develop good eating habits.

But you might be wondering, “How do I form good eating habits in my kids?” While they might put up a fuss if you introduce new and healthy meals, there are ways to Picky eater little girl covering her eyes with her hands not eating her vegetablesfinesse the situation to make the dishes you prepare more appealing.


Prepare one meal

If you put your foot down about cooking a separate meal to appeal to your children’s taste buds, then you condition them to know your expectations. It might be a good idea to try incorporating meals that can be assembled, such as wraps or tacos so that they can customize it and have a little more freedom.


Set an example

You might think that kids will only eat kid-friendly food like hot dogs or macaroni and cheese, but if you set the example, then they’re very likely to mimic you. Children look up to their parents. They desire to be like you, and if you show them you’re excited about your dinner, they might be too.


Use condiments

If your child isn’t too keen on that new fruit or vegetable, then serve it with something to dip it in, such as marshmallow cream, Cool Whip, hummus, salsa or a creamy dressing.


Cook together

Let your child help you prepare the meal, everything from cutting up the ingredients to cooking it. If they’re invested in the creation of their food, they may be more likely to eat it.


Get descriptive

It’s one thing to tell your child to simply “take a bite.” It’s another thing to pique their interest by saying, “What kind of texture is that? What do you smell? What does it look like?”


Incorporate education

If you’re introducing a new food, research fun facts or the history of it to share with your child. You could even try cooking dishes from Mother and daughter having fun with the vegetables in the kitchen to help get picky eater to eat vegetables.other countries and learn about them in the process.


Be artistic

Food is fun and colorful, and you can help your child see it that way. Cut the food into fun shapes, or have your child sort their fruits and veggies by color.


Name it

Fun names put a whole new perspective on food. A child might wrinkle their nose at broccoli and carrots, but if you dub them “bodybuilding broccoli” and “X-ray vision carrots,” then suddenly they become exciting and more appealing to your child’s imagination.


Make believe

Encourage your child to pretend they are a famous chef or food critic. Let them taste each new dish and ask them to comment on what they observe about the food, such as the texture, the smell or the look.


For more resources related to National Nutrition Month, click here.


The author of picky eater article with her familyAbout the Author: Shelby Hunke is a registered dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in exercise science and a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband, Paul, and three kids, Madison, Jackson and Conor. In her spare time, she enjoys family time, running and the outdoors!