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The Importance of a Balanced Diet

Do you know what it means to eat healthy?

Jamie Kandora, Tidelands Health clinical nutrition manager discusses the importance of a balanced diet, and how easy it is to eat healthy and enjoy the foods you eat!
The Importance of a Balanced Diet
Featured Speaker:
Jamie Kandora, Tidelands Health clinical nutrition manager
Jamie Kandora is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Tidelands Health. She provides nutrition education and teaches healthy cooking and eating tips as part the health system’s Diabetes Self-Management Program and the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

Bill Klaproth (Host): Proper nutrition through a balanced diet is vital to keep all of the functions of your body running properly. And here to talk with us about the importance of a balanced diet and what makes up a balanced diet is Jamie Kandora, a registered dietician with Tidelands Health. Jamie, thank you so much for your time. So, when it comes to our health; why is a balanced diet so important?

Jamie Kandora (Guest): Well, as you mentioned, a balanced diet is essential for our body’s function to function properly, to make sure we have all the vitamins and minerals and nutrients that we need in order to be healthy.

Bill: So, when we talk about a balanced diet; we hear about the food plate and the proper food groups. So, what are the current guidelines?

Jamie: The current guidelines are to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. We want you to make sure that you are getting about half of your plate as vegetables, about a quarter of your plate as whole grains like brown rice or quinoa or sweet potatoes and a quarter of your plate would be a lean protein such as chicken, fish, turkey, something along those lines, along with a serving of dairy.

Bill: Okay, Jamie, so half the plate vegetables, quarter of the plate whole grains, another quarter of the plate proteins. So, we should approach every meal thinking of the plate like that.

Jamie: Yes, exactly. So, most of us Americans are used to eating maybe three quarters of our plate as grains but really it should only be a quarter of our plate. So, if you can keep the visual of that plate in your mind for each of your meals, you’ll have a well-balanced meal.

Bill: Do you have any tips or tricks to help us with that? Is meal-planning a good idea, so we are not at the last minute going oh my God, what am I going to make? Do you have any tips for us to help us achieve that balanced plate goal?

Jamie: Sure, I think there are many, many resources out there on the internet. One of my favorites is and that is – that really highlights the My Plate. So, that’s a great place to help to plan your meals. You can use pre-loaded templates and things like that. So that is one of my favorite websites to go to. But planning your meals definitely will help to keep you on the right track.

Bill: So, Alright, good resource. And can you give us an idea of what a balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner looks like?

Jamie: Sure, so for breakfast you want to be sure you are starting your day with plenty of protein, so that might be eggs, you can have the yolk as long as you are not having a dozen eggs a week but certainly one or two egg yolks a day would be okay. And you would want to include some fruit and maybe some grain in there like oatmeal. That would be a nice healthy, balanced breakfast. A balanced lunch maybe something as simple as a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with some lettuce and tomato and maybe a side of some carrots and celery sticks or something along those lines. And then dinner you know you could have whole wheat spaghetti with spaghetti sauce and some grilled chicken. Those would be examples of a well-balanced meal.

Bill: Jamie, you are making me hungry here.

Jamie: Me too.

Bill: And can we talk about processed food for a minute and why we should try to eliminate that from our diet?

Jamie: So, processed food, usually is made up of sugar and salt and all those things that we really should be limiting in our diet. When you eat whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, you get the variety or the benefit of having vitamins and minerals in their natural form versus added during the processing; so that’s why we really try to encourage as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can versus the processed type.

Bill: So, we hear a lot about the plant-based diet. That’s kind of what you are talking about, stay away from the processed foods, stuff that comes in a box and gravitate towards food that basically doesn’t have a label, right like a banana doesn’t have a label on it.

Jamie: Right. So, when you are in the grocery store, what we recommend is shopping around the perimeter of the store. So, if you notice, around the perimeter of the store, you have your fruits and vegetables, generally your milk and dairy products, your meat and things like that. Those are the things that don’t have labels. The inside of the grocery store is made up of all those processed foods that we typically would like you to stay away from.

Bill: And those processed foods; if someone is trying to lose weight those are really, really not the thing you should be eating. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Jamie: Exactly. Or if you have conditions like high blood pressure where you need to watch your salt intake. Many of those packaged foods have huge amounts of sodium in them. So, we really don’t encourage those at all for people with high blood pressure or heart issues.

Bill: For someone listening that says I need to eat better. I need to have more of a balanced diet. My diet right now, not very good. Do you have any tips for us to transfer from that bad diet a lot of processed foods into that healthier more balanced approach? You know it is tough to do cold turkey. Is there a way that somebody can easily transition into a better diet?

Jamie: I would say start one meal at a time. Try and for right now you are used to going through the drive through for breakfast; try and make your breakfast at home. And realize not every day is perfect and nobody is perfect, and nobody eats perfectly 100% of the time. So, don’t be too hard on yourself. But do some research and go on and try and find some ideas and you can incorporate those into your lifestyle.

Bill: And sometimes you do need a little bit of help. Can you talk about programs that you offer at Tidelands to help people achieve their nutritional needs?

Jamie: Sure, well we offer free supermarket tours. We go around to various grocery stores in the area and we review label reading and some meal planning and things like that. We also offer a Core Four class which is a weight management class that helps people to learn more about healthy nutrition and that’s and eight-week course where you would come every single week and be weighed and learn something new – there’s a new topic every week and then we do have services available for people that have diabetes as well. So, those require a physician referral, but you would see the dietician and learn how to manage your diabetes.

Bill: So, Jamie, you mentioned label reading. Can you give us some tips on what we should be looking for because I find label reading very confusing? I really don’t know what to pay attention to.

Jamie: It is very confusing. They are working on updating the label and you will find some foods now do have the updated label that make it a little bit easier to read. But one of the biggest things to look at is the serving size on the label. Food manufacturers can be sneaky and sneak four serving sizes in one package of something. So, you think you are just eating one serving; but you are not. So, if you ate that whole thing, you would have to multiply everything on the label by four. So, when you are trying to watch your weight, those calories really can add up. So, the most important things to really look at on the label are the serving size, the calories, the fat and the sodium. Those are the main ones that I tend to look at when I’m reading labels.

Bill: Those are great tips. Thank you, Jamie. And overall, why should someone choose Tidelands Health for help with their nutritional goals?

Jamie: Well we do offer all those services that I mentioned previously and those are all led by registered dieticians who have gone to school for this for many years and have had extensive training in this field. So, we are very experienced, helping people to achieve their weight loss goals or their goals related to their blood sugars.

Bill: Well Jamie, thank you again for spending some time with us today. For more information about Tidelands Health physicians, services and facilities you can visit ,that’s This is Better Health Radio. I’m Bill Klaproth. Thanks for listening.