blog » February 28, 2019 by Renee

Healthy Eating Tips & Debunking Nutrition Myths With Nutritionist Vicki Shanta Retelny! by Renee

5 years ago
Healthy Eating Tips & Debunking Nutrition Myths With Nutritionist Vicki Shanta Retelny!

Are ready to make some healthful choices and be your best self? March is National Nutrition Month, and Vicki Shanta Retelny, 30Seconds contributor and registered dietitian nutritionist, chatted with us about what it really means to eat healthy, debunk nutrition myths and focus on the power food as lifestyle medicine. Vicki is a lifestyle nutrition expert, author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods and Total Body Diet for Dummies, as well as recipe developer and blogger. 

Q: How important is it to eat organic produce and dairy products?

For produce, it’s not necessarily important to eat organically. I’d rather see you eat fruits and veggies – period. Research shows that from a nutrition standpoint organic and conventionally grown produce are about the same. It’s not worth spending a lot of money on organic produce, instead wash all produce well in cold water with a dedicated scrub brush. The upside of organic dairy: the cows are not given hormones or antibiotics and fed organic grade food. The downside is it may be more expensive.

Q: Why is fiber really good for?

Fiber is non-digestible parts of plants that fills you up on fewer calories, helps stabilize blood sugar, rids your body of excess cholesterol and keeps your regular. Aim to get about 30 grams of fiber every day from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, peas and lentils. Soluble fiber is found in the pectin of fruits and whole grains like oats and barley, as well as psyllium, which is good for keeping cholesterol levels in a healthy range. Insoluble fiber is found in wheat and oat bran, vegetables and whole grains. It helps with bowel function and health.

Q: Is it better to eat low or high fat?

Great question! Fat is confusing. Fats are vital for life, however the type of fat you eat regularly matters. It’s better to eat more of the unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil and avocado.

Choose less of the saturated fat found in red meat, cheese, milk chocolate and butter. This doesn’t mean eat none, however, limit the amount of saturated fats you eat as these are the ones that can cause inflammation and diseases.

The calories in high fat foods add up, so pay attention to portion sizes. For example, an ounce of nuts is about 1/4 cup or 49 pistachios or 23 almonds; a serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons or 1 tablespoon of olive oil; an ounce of chocolate or pat of butter are one serving.

Fat is satisfying, though. So include fat in meals and snacks, but choose wisely. I’d rather see you eat a full-fat food, but a smaller amount, that a lot of a fat-free foods that contains a lot of artificial additives to give it flavor.

Q: How much added sugar is OK to have every day?

Let’s face it, sugar is in everything from cereal to beverages to condiments. Added sugar stacks up quickly as 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon. Check your food labels for “added sugars.” The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 6 teaspoons a day for women; 9 teaspoons a day for men.

Sugar is sugar, which means honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup and table sugar elevate blood sugar and contain calories (about 15 calories per teaspoon). It’s best to add your own sweeteners, whenever possible. Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain, inflammation and stress the pancreas to overproduce insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to get into the muscle cells for energy. So, it’s important to monitor your daily sugar intake.

Q. How much protein should I be eating?

Protein is vital for muscles development and it typically keeps you full longer as it takes a bit longer to digest. Plus, protein has a higher thermic effect meaning that it requires more calories to burn protein than carbs and fat. That’s an added bonus!

Daily protein needs are based on your weight, gender and physical activity level. The more physically active you are, the more protein you need. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest, too!

Protein is in animal foods like red meat, chicken, fish and pork, but also in plants like tofu, beans, lentils, peas, and whole grains like quinoa, peanut butter sandwich and seitan (“wheat” meat).

Q: What are some good snacks?

Snacks are a bridge to the next meal and about 150 to 200 calories. Therefore, bringing healthy, portable and portion-controlled snacks is a good plan. Try to incorporate protein plus produce (fruit or vegetables). Protein is more filling than just carbs alone. Snack ideas are:

  • a handful of nuts plus an apple
  • string cheese and grapes
  • peanut butter and a small banana
  • cottage cheese plus cut-up bell peppers, carrots and cucumbers

If you like nutrition bars, some of the ones that I recommend for snacks are KIND bars, Lara bars or Rx Bars as these have minimal ingredients and do not have a lot of added sugar (stick with 5 grams or less of added sugar).

Q: How much water should I drink every day?

Sipping water throughout the day is the best bet. A good rule of thumb is to aim for half of your body weight in ounces from fluids, primarily water.

Have a water bottle at your desk, set a timer on your phone or laptop to remind you to drink water, bring a water bottle to the gym or on your commute to/from work, school or your daily activities.

Wake up with water by drinking a 4 to 8 ounces of water when you wake up to hydrate your body after an overnight slumber. Before you reach for your morning coffee, tea or juice, drink water first.

Just as breakfast “breaks-the-fast,” water rehydrates your total body to energize you for the day ahead.

Q: Where can people learn more about you and your services?

Please go to my website and blog,, to learn more about me and my nutrition services. I’d love to work with you! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @vsrnutrition, too, and be sure to read my 30Seconds tips!

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Dieter Schmitz
This week’s chat will be great Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN ~ Health is a beautiful journey!
Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN
Super excited to chat with all of you and to give you nourishing ideas! Thanks for having me.
Donna John
So much great nutrition info here! Great chat! Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN
Michael Kennedy
This is fantastic, I am printing this out! Just started a new journey and it's so helpful!
Thanks all.

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