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Expert: Healthy diet doesn't have to be a lofty, expensive goal

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Mike Moen

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(Prairie News Service) March is National Nutrition Month, and North Dakotans are being reminded of ways to better manage their health through personalized diet plans emphasizing flexibility without all the pressure.

In a post-pandemic world, people might be trying to shed unhealthy eating habits they developed during the early stages of COVID-19. Or the crisis may have inspired them to pay more attention to preventing disease and improving their health.

Bailey Holmquist, a registered dietitian based in Fargo, said fewer processed foods should play a role. For example, there are certain proteins to keep in mind.

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"I tell my patients, 'Do what you're able to, but if we can get good grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught fish,'" Holmquist outlined. "So that we get the most nutrients out of those animals."

But if such items are not in your budget, or you do not have time to look for them, she recommended buying the protein most easy to obtain. Canned beans are considered a good complementary option. And there is affordable peanut butter made from healthy ingredients. Holmquest stressed it is not about being perfect with your diet, but instead focusing on consistency.

Holmquest also pointed out specific guidance on healthy diets does not work for everyone, and it is important to figure out what your body can handle.

"If somebody has kidney disease and they hear 'protein,' that's so not good for them to hear," Holmquest noted. "Because protein is very, very hard on the kidneys, when somebody has impaired kidney functions."

As for fresh fruits and vegetables, she recommended rinsing them off before using, which helps to remove any pesticides used to grow them. As for meal planning, Holmquest suggested having plenty of your favorite "go-to" nutritious items stored in your kitchen, which makes it easier to prepare something healthy on a busy night.