Balance Your Diet

Do you ever find yourself at the grocery store roaming around…wondering what you should buy and what foods are actually healthy? I can understand how it can get confusing with all of the marketing labels indicating “heart healthy” or “will lower your cholesterol” or “contains live active cultures.” The only way to really decide if the product is true to its claim is by reading the nutrition facts label and ingredients on the back or side of the product. Trader Joe’s has some great, easy to prepare and tasty meals for busy individuals and/or families.

Note: Balance Beam Photo taken by Renjith Krishman and fruits/veggies by XedOS4 at

Nutrition facts label reading can be quite complex. Some people only look at the fat content, while others only look at the carbohydrates and sugar and some look at the calories and call it a day! It’s not just about one nutrient; it’s about looking at all of the nutrients as a whole. By this I mean, looking at the following:

  • Serving size (how many servings are you having?)
  • Total calories (per serving)
  • Fat (broken down into saturated and trans fat- the bad fats, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat- the good fats)
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Carbohydrates (broken down into fiber and sugar)
  • Protein
  • Vitamin A, C, Calcium and Iron are included as well


The first step to a healthier diet and ifestyle is to replace processed foods and refined sugars with FRESH foods. Open your kitchen cupboards and fridge….and what do you see?!

Eliminate or limit the amount of processed foods in your diet (i.e. chips, cookies, pies, baked goods, and crackers, which are often loaded with fats, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients. Replace these foods with healthy alternatives such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These WHOLE foods provide disease-fighting properties and antioxidants (in the fruits and vegetables) that reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Another bonus is that whole foods are usually low in calories but high in fiber, so they’ll fill you up on fewer calories — which can help you maintain or lose weight.

One trick to remember: when buying whole-grain foods like cereals or breads, make sure the label says “whole” not “enriched or refined grain” and each serving contains at least three grams of fiber.

Fill up on lean protein that is grilled, baked, or broiled. Use caution with meats and heavier proteins that can be high in calories, and saturated fat (found mostly in animal products).

Trans fats are also dangerous to your heart because they can raise harmful LDL cholesterol levels, lower good HDL cholesterol levels, and increase your risk of heart disease. They’re usually found in fried foods; processed baked goods like cookies, pie crusts, and pastries; and stick margarines and shortenings. So, don’t go to a coffee shop on an empty stomach with a sweet tooth because you’ll be sure to overload on trans fat intake with just one scone. Tempting huh?!

Instead, focus on the heart healthy fats. Look for them in raw almond butter or natural peanut butter; fatty fish; vegetable oils like olive, canola, and peanut; avocados; nuts; and seeds.

It’s extremely important to adopt heart smart cooking techniques and practice portion control.

IMG_2031If you are interested in doing a grocery store tour, learning how to read and understand a nutrition facts label or receiving a pantry makeover, schedule an appointment with a true nutrition expert, Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer and Founder of Nutrition For Body And Mind. Courtney is also available for one on one nutrition consultations, group classes and designing customized meal plans to suit your specific needs.

……I’m happy to help you reach your health goals every step or “bite” of the way!