Getting With The Re-Program

Healthy eating starts with a healthy outlook
Healthy Eating
Photo courtesy of Ridofranz / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Remember the Atkins diet? Have you tried on the more recent Paleo diet? Or the classic low-carb diet? Just for good measure: Can you name the diet founded by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo? His New York Times bestselling book, Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type, sold over 7 million copies.

All of these diets, hyped to discourage people from thinking that eating right has to be a drag, flourished for a time before they went the way of most New Year’s resolutions.

Tammy Lantz, the owner of Your Essential Dietitian in Destin, says the only positive thing to come from fad diets is a sense of community.

“Community is vital in our evolution of human survival,” she said. “However, the feeling of belongingness with fad diets is short-lived when dieters cannot live up to the standards and feel as if they’re constantly failing.”

Lantz has a bachelor’s degree in food, nutrition and dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado. With 20 years of experience as a registered dietitian working with clients of varying backgrounds, she wouldn’t recommend a particular diet, but she did offer one sweeping statement.

“I highly disagree with any diet that is restrictive,” she said. “That’s a direct invitation for overeating, obsession and shame, which are all counterintuitive to health.

“If I had to speak of one eating plan, I would consider the Mediterranean lifestyle because it incorporates taste, satisfaction, community and culture to optimize health and not just the food.”

What’s the key to living healthy? It’s astonishingly simple, but it isn’t easy.

It’s slow as molasses, which happens to be a healthy alternative for sugar that is naturally rich in antioxidants. Blackstrap molasses aren’t exactly flying off the shelves, and neither are foods like tofu, quinoa or kale. 

According to traveling dietitian Jackie Munoz, people interested in increasing their all-around wellness should focus on activity levels, medical issues, lab work, height and weight, skin type, body composition and a balanced diet.

Munoz, who graduated from Florida State University with a master’s degree in sports nutrition and exercise science, said the process must involve more than omitting certain things from one’s diet such as carbohydrates.

“Carbs get bad press,” she said, “but they are what gives us energy and we do need them to maintain a healthy weight long term.”

She breaks down nutrition into two categories.

Macronutrients provide our bodies with energy, such as carbs, fats and proteins. Micronutrients, though they do not provide “energy,” fuel bodies with minerals and vitamins to maintain proper functioning.

“The reason a lot of fad diets fail is because they are extremely selective and help you lose weight fast, but it often becomes a yo-yo sort of situation where you gain it back later,” Munoz said.

She also mentioned that it’s important to start with a goal in mind. Is it to lose weight? Gain weight? Put on muscle? Improve mental health? Decrease inflammation?

The best way to lose weight, she commented, is by slowly trimming one to two pounds a week with a mindful approach to well-balanced meals and regular exercise. If the goal is to gain weight, it’s helpful to find ways to increase natural fats from foods like avocado and oils while adding protein powders when possible. 

Munoz, who’s traveled internationally practicing one-on-one nutrition with her clients, is now based in Panama City Beach and works at Sacred Heart Bay Medical Center.

“The No. 1 thing my clients want to improve is their quality of life,” she said. “Everyone wants to feel more energized and experience less pain. In those cases, focusing on antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods is most important — I always start with food — and then add supplements if necessary.”

There is no “one size fits all” approach to wellness, Munoz said.

She recommends that people have lab tests done to discover nutrition gaps or deficiencies that, if addressed, could greatly improve overall wellness and hormonal balance. And, she pointed to online sources that can help with nutritional meal planning. Munoz suggests for nutrition guidance or for a more scientific-based approach.

“I strongly believe each individual body has the innate wisdom to guide itself toward its own unique needs,” Lantz said. “Once all the external diet culture indoctrination is unlearned and released from one’s subconscious mind and nervous system, people can begin to seek better ways to maintain health.”

There are three things required if one is to change his or her diet, Lantz said: emotional awareness, developing compassion for self and reprogramming the brain to let go of restrictive ways of eating.

“Many people attempt to change their environment or behaviors, but these changes generally do not last beyond three days, because who that person is at the very core level did not change,” Lantz said. “Their entire system is designed to go back to its default setting, unless the default is shifted.”

It’s not a fast process, but the payoff that both Lantz and Munoz see in their clients is worth the time spent reprogramming.

Grilled chicken plate

Photo by iStock / Getty Images Plus: ValentynVolkov

How to Build a Healthy Plate

  1. Make your plate colorful. It’s the easiest way to pack in a lot of nutrients that your body needs.

  2. Fill half your plate with fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables.

  3. Proteins must make one-third of your plate. So choose meat, milk, eggs and other dairy products.

  4. Fill one-third of your plate with high-fiber food like legumes and whole grains.

  5. Consume fats, including oils, beefs, cheese and butter — but only in moderation.

  6. Include a handful of nuts in your everyday diet.

  7. Drink plenty of water. However, steer away from sugary juices and sodas.

  8. Enjoy treats like cakes, chocolates and ice creams occasionally.


Macro Vs. Micro


The building blocks of life, macronutrients are food elements that are required in large amounts in the body as they provide us energy to eat, breath, sleep and function properly. They contribute toward the bulk energy needed by the body to run metabolic processes. Required in relatively larger amounts. Carbohydrates, Proteins, Lipids (Fats).


Food elements that are required in minimal amounts in the body. They help in overall growth, development and well-being. Micronutrients help in the production of enzymes, hormones and proteins that help in the regulation metabolism, heartbeat, brain functions and bone density, among other processes. Required in relatively smaller amounts. Vitamins, Minerals and Phytochemical/Phytonutrients.

Carbohydrates – Provide energy; support digestive health and immune function.

Protein – Regulate cellular processes; support mechanical and structural function; provide energy.

Minerals – Support bone, muscular, cardiovascular and nervous system functions; produce enzymes and hormones.

Fats – Support cellular function and structure; regulate temperature; protect body organs; store energy in the body.

Vitamins – Support cell function development and growth; function as antioxidants; assist in the absorption of other nutrients.

Phytochemical Phytonutrients – May help prevent chronic diseases; exert actions such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antioxidant effects.

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Categories: Nutrition