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How to Maintain a Balanced Diet

A local dietician walks us through how improving our diet can improve our overall health.

By Gwendolyn Knapp December 30, 2020 Published in the December 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Registered dietician Carli Kilgore can whip up a smoothie for just about every need.

Image: Jenn Duncan

Real food expert and registered dietician Carli Kilgore ( walks us through the right choices we can make to improve our diet and overall health.  

Eat your vitamins.

Supplements (vitamins, amino acids, herbs) can be downright overwhelming—just scope out the grocery store aisle. “But the best way to get them, I’m always going to say, is food,” says Kilgore. In fact, natural foods in their whole forms may have benefits we don’t even understand—“research can’t go there yet”—meaning the vitamin C (and antioxidants) you absorb from an organic strawberry may work synergistically with the body in ways a pill or gummy can’t.

To get your fill, Kilgore suggests eating clean, opting to go organic whenever possible, and trying some new (healthful) recipes, like blended juices and soups or a casserole. “You can throw mushrooms in a food processor and mix them with ground beef or chicken, and you don’t even taste that,” she says. “You’re getting a vegetable and a protein, and then you can cut up onions and garlic and sweet potatoes and roast them together. Per cup, you’re getting all these components.” 

Chicken soup is for more than just the soul.

Boost your immune system.

“If a body is burdened by toxicity or a lack of nutrients, that’s an imbalance, and it makes the body vulnerable,” says Kilgore. To boost immunity, cut out inflammatory and processed foods and support your gut with bone broth, pumpkin seeds, beans and veggies, and good old-fashioned chicken soup, she advises. “It’s got the B vitamins from the chicken, vitamin A from the carrots, all the antimicrobial and antibacterial support from the onions and garlic. You’ve got the minerals and the amino acid glutamine from the broth that helps the gut stay really strong—that’s nothing new, everybody knows this, but maybe that helps fill in why that’s so good.”

And don’t worry, boosting immunity is also quite flavorful. “Turmeric and ginger are the most anti-inflammatory foods out there. Herbs and microgreens, you need so little of, but they can cleave heavy metals from your body and kill viruses and bacteria.”

What’s up with fasting anyways?

“I equate it to Keto,” says Kilgore. “It’s so hot right now and it works for some people. But for the most part, you shouldn’t jump right to it.” Though limiting yourself to an eight-hour eating window during the day has been shown via various reputable studies to promote cellular turnover, encourage weight loss, and improve liver health, Kilgore notes, it can also backfire. “If you’re eating junk processed food in your eight-hour window and then you fast, you’re creating a blood sugar nightmare.”

Instead of fasting, you could just add lemon water with ginger to your daily routine as a mini-detox of sorts. “Consider it a daily gift to your liver,” says Kilgore, since it helps reduce inflammation, filters toxins, and gets things moving, so to speak.

However, if you’re absolutely dead set on playing this hunger game with your body, she says you need to do it right: “Make sure you’re getting all your nutrients, your blood sugar is stable, and that you don’t have inflammation. Then you can graduate to fasting.”

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