By Cindy Hadish
Spring cleaning can apply to more than a person’s home. To Kristen Decker, a registered dietitian and integrative health coach, spring is a time to “clean up” multiple areas of life, including health, career, finances and more.
“Spring is a time to be more reflective, given its place of renewal,” Decker said. “Anywhere people see a need for revamping is a good place to start.”
To help, Decker will lead a workshop March 30 called “Spring Cleaning for the Spirit” at Sisters Health Club, 4333 Czech Ln. NE #3, Cedar Rapids. Sisters Health Club, a full gym exclusively for women, offers a variety of fitness classes, along with a holistic approach to wellness.
Decker will lead the group in a self-evaluation of multiple areas of life and share tips and strategies to enable each person to prioritize their best next steps.
For many, that includes examining nutrition and food choices. Decker will share her expertise in those areas, including guidelines for healthy eating. One basic strategy she touts aligns with author Michael Pollan’s advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
“You want to keep it simple, with whole foods, minimally processed,” Decker said. In Iowa, particularly in the winter, fresh fruits and vegetables can be hard to find, but Decker said simple options exist, such as using frozen produce.
“That’s a good way to get in those servings of fruits and vegetables, especially in the Midwest,” she said.
Under the national “My Plate” standards, half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with grains and the final quarter with protein, with dairy on the side or incorporated into the meal.
While many people know those guidelines, they often are not followed. Decker can help offer advice for sticking to healthy options, rather than giving in to fast-food or other choices that result from busy lifestyles.
“The majority of people know the recommendations,” she said, “but sometimes they fall back on what they’re used to. We tend to get busy, with our schedules pulling us this way and that.”
Decker recommends carving out time to cook and plan the week’s meals in advance. If there is a void in servings of fruits and vegetables, snacks – an apple or carrots, for example, rather than a bag of chips – can fill in the gaps, she said.
She also advises people concerned about their nutritional intake to watch for pre-made products that might be touted as healthy, such as fruit smoothies, that actually contain a high amount of sugar.
“It comes down to knowing how to read the label,” Decker said. Deciphering food labels is another topic she covers when working with clients in her health coach role.
Under her own business, Lentil Wellness, Decker provides one-on-one advice for clients on meal preparation for their particular dietary needs, including food intolerances, newly diagnosed health conditions, weight loss goals and other lifestyle challenges.
Just as in the “Spring Cleaning for the Spirit” workshop, Decker’s approach looks at the entire person, including mind, body and spirit. She began her career as a registered dietitian, working in a supermarket setting for nearly five years, before completing health coach training with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2015.
Besides offering group well-being workshops, such as the one at Sisters Health Club, Decker provides lifestyle mentoring, personalized nutrition, healthy cooking workshops, meal preparation assistance and grocery store tours to help clients understand how healthy their choices are and what they might eat instead.
While some people hope for a “silver bullet,” such as supplements or diet products, Decker said, “I don’t tend to recommend any quick-fix options.”
Rather, she directs clients to start off with good nutrition, along with examining stress and other barriers to good health.
“Look at the root cause of the issue and address that first,” she said.
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“Spring Cleaning for the Spirit” will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at Sisters Health Club, 4333 Czech Ln. NE #3, Cedar Rapids. The workshop is open to the public.
Cost is $10.