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Healthy Holidays: Normal Eating & Finding Balance in Your Diet


Every individual’s eating patterns are as unique to them as their fingerprint. Our daily intake of food (better known as our diet) is based on a whole host of things that influence our lives. It is based not only on our personal preference, but also on our environment, the social interactions that we associate with food, our family traditions, and our memories of times both happy and sad. Our emotions and daily habits are entirely integrated into our diet. These are important things to remember as we begin talking about achieving balance in our diet, and about what normal eating really is.

Having a healthy diet is not about going on a “diet”, but is about finding balance in your individual diet. Because we are all different, we all have a favorite food, a comfort food, and a guilty pleasure that are individual to us. Achieving a balanced diet is as much about incorporating healthy foods as it is about incorporating those favorite foods that you love. By integrating more healthy foods into your diet you may start to recognize that those guilty pleasures become a lot less guilty, and that those favorite foods become a lot more special.

A balanced diet should:

  • Include Consistency (are you having 3 balanced meals each day and eating snacks when you need them?)

  • Be conscious and thoughtful (are you hungry when you are eating? are you taking the time to enjoy your food? are you thinking about the quality of your calories?)

  • Have variety (try new foods, mix-and-match old favorites, don’t let yourself get bored- the food world is your oyster! add color to your plate, vary the textures on your plate.)

  • Be social and pleasurable (share meals with loved ones to build healthy relationships. eat delicious flavorful foods that taste good and are yummy to eat!)

You may notice that your diet feels unbalanced if…

  • You feel bored with your food.

  • You are not eating enough fruits and vegetables or colorful foods.

  • You are overly rigid or restrictive with your food intake.

  • You are out of touch with your hunger cues.

Normal eating…

  • Takes up some of your time, but is only one important aspect of your life.

  • Is overeating at times and under-eating at times.

  • Is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored.

  • Is being able to use some moderate constraint in order to get in all of the right foods, but not so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods.

  • Is eating 3 times a day or just munching along the way.

MOST importantly NORMAL EATING is flexible. It varies in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger and your proximity to food.

A balanced diet does not sacrifice all of the things that you love about food; instead it highlights those foods as being special to you!

Reference: Ben Gray RD.; University of Georgia Health Center

Stealth Health Cooking Tip

Did you know that there is a negligible difference in the amount of calcium in whole milk versus skim milk? Calcium is a difficult nutrient to get enough of in our daily diet.

Our best source of calcium is dairy products. Plain nonfat Greek yogurt is a creamy thick yogurt that does a great job of mimicking sour cream, heavy whipping cream, and even mayonnaise. Sour cream, although it is a dairy product, does not contain enough calcium to contribute to your diet.

By replacing it in a recipe with Greek yogurt to are giving the recipe a mega health boost! Greek yogurt is packed with protein and calcium along with lots of other beneficial micro-nutrients, and guess what, they won’t know the difference even if you tell them!

Holiday Stealth Health Recipe

Fresh Green Bean Casserole

Packed with protein and vegetables; low in sodium and fat!
Serving size: ½ cup
Yield: 8 servings


Breadcrumb Topping

  • 3 slices dry whole wheat bread, cut into small pieces

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, soft, cut into pieces

  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese


  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I recommend “FAGE”)

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, ends removed, cut in half (or use frozen)

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • ½ cup  sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a food processor, pulse the bread, butter, and parmesan cheese until combined.

In a large deep skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and salt and saute until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the green beans and cook, stirring often, until tender (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more until fragrant. Remove from heat.

Stir in the cheddar cheese until it melts. Add the Greek yogurt and the remainder of the spices. Stir to combine.

Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is a golden brown and the mixture is bubbling.

Notes: If you are using canned green beans rinse them thoroughly to reduce sodium!

This recipe has over 7 grams of protein per serving! WOW!