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Say Farewell to Dieting and Hello to a Healthy Lifestyle

One local Doctorate student in clinical nutrition shares her healthy lifestyle tips for our foodie issue

With a crazy new diet being introduced every five minutes, it can feel overwhelming to determine what is actually the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  

To preface, we want to ensure that nutrition information is coming from a reputable source. Registered dietitians are the experts in nutrition and are trained to use evidence-based practice when caring for patients and clients.

Through my current education to become a registered dietitian, I have found several tools to help patients find success in meeting their goals.

It might be surprising to hear, but there is no such thing as “good foods” or “bad foods.” Yes, some foods might provide a higher concentration of nutrients, but shifting away from the mentality that one type of food is “better” than another can prevent the feeling that certain foods are meant to be avoided. 

All foods can truly fit into a healthy lifestyle, and recognizing this can help improve one’s relationship with food. To embrace the “all foods fit” mentality, it is important to ask when preparing a meal or a snack, ‘what can I add to this to make me feel fuller longer?’ or ‘what can I add to this to make it more nutritious?’

When asking these questions, we are permitting ourselves to enjoy a food that we might be craving by incorporating it into a balanced meal, leaving us satisfied.

A staple to many of my meals, pasta, is too often referred to as “bad food.” Instead of avoiding pasta altogether, we can ask – ‘what can be added to make this a complete meal?’

When defining the components of a complete meal, a grain, protein source, and fruits or vegetables should be included. 

Grains provide us with carbohydrates, which although often feared, are vital as it is the brain’s preferred source of energy. Grains, like pasta, also tend to be a good source of B vitamins.

Next, we want to think of a protein source that would pair well. Protein and dietary fat actually stay in the stomach longer, this allows us to feel fuller for a longer period of time. This addition makes a meal more satisfying and might prevent the consumption of unnecessary calories later on in the day. 

Finally, adding fruits or vegetables can provide added volume and fiber, further contributing to our satiety while promoting gut health. Fruits and vegetables are wonderful sources of micronutrients, and incorporating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors can provide a larger array of health benefits. 

When composing a meal this way, we allow ourselves to enjoy the pasta, while incorporating different macro- and micronutrients into our meal, and leaving us fuller for longer. 


4 oz. of spaghetti

2 medium spiralized zucchinis (‘zoodles’)

1 cup of cherry tomato

1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined

2-3 cloves of garlic

Red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450º. Season shrimp with black pepper and red pepper flakes. Place seasoned shrimp on grill pan, baste with garlic-olive oil. Cook shrimp for ~3 minutes on each side, basting before flipping.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine one tablespoon of olive oil, 2-3 cloves of garlic, a small pinch of red pepper, and 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes. Let simmer.

3. Salt pasta water before boiling. Cook spaghetti according to the package.

4. While pasta is cooking, prepare zucchini into a spiralized fashion. (These can be purchased pre-spiralized for a more time-efficient method.)

5. Reserve a ¼ cup of pasta water when draining the pasta. Evenly distribute the pasta and the zoodles in the large skillet with tomato mixture and one tablespoon of olive oil, allowing the zucchini to be warmed. Add reserved pasta water as needed.

6. Divide pasta mixture into servings, and top with grilled shrimp. Enjoy!