Dietitian Tiffany Krogstad wants to keep your heart healthy

By: Jacqueline Palfy .

dietitian tiffany krogstad
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Tiffany Krogstad almost never stops smiling. She’s funny and friendly and full of information on recipes, heart health and all manner of commiserating on how tough it is to raise kids who are picky eaters.

She and her husband have three kids and know what it’s like to balance work and family – and then to layer on healthy habits. It’s not easy.

The 31-year-old registered dietitian works in the Sanford Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, offering tips and tricks to people who are trying to improve their health. She recently talked with us about how to try new ideas when cooking for a family.

We asked her what keeps her motivated and what advice she has for the rest of us.

What made you want to be a dietitian? I was involved in sports throughout high school, and I have always enjoyed being active. I knew I wanted to go into physical therapy or become an exercise physiologist. I went post secondary in Willmar, Minnesota, to obtain some of my generals. When I transferred to Concordia College, I majored in exercise science. During a summer internship, I heard more about why having a nutrition degree would be helpful, so I added that. It’s been very beneficial when educating patients.

What is your day like at the cardiovascular clinic? I see a variety of people for a variety of different reasons, but most of my patients have heart issues. My services are free for heart patients – which is amazing. We are the only clinic within Sanford Health that offers free dietitian services. I teach people about weight loss, heart health and low-sodium or diabetic diets. I see people in clinic and also do phone consults.

What is your favorite part of your job? I enjoy meeting new people and helping them create healthier versions of themselves. There is nothing better than seeing my patients make healthier lifestyle changes. Everybody has a different journey, and I really enjoy watching it unfold. And I want people to know that I’m not the food police!

What are some of the hardest habits for people to break? What helps them? Patients always say, “I know what to eat, but it’s a matter of actually doing it.” Changing your lifestyle is really hard. Many of us get stuck in a rut. I really try to help patients work through their own barriers – maybe it’s late-night snacking, sugar cravings or skipping meals. We talk about it and try to come up with individual solutions.

Describe what makes a heart-healthy diet? The heart healthy diet isn’t about following a low-fat diet, which has been preached for over the past 30 years. It highlights a variety of vegetables and fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains and dairy products with minimal sugar.

Who could benefit from seeing a dietitian? Anyone. Dietitians encourage patients or clients to make achievable lifestyle changes. If you have any kind of health or medical condition that could be controlled by diet – like hypertension, which can be controlled with a low-sodium diet – you should consider seeing a dietitian.

What’s your go-to weeknight meal? Chicken stir-fry. It includes lean protein and a variety of vegetables and spices while cooked in healthy fat (extra virgin olive oil). Most often I serve it over quinoa.

What do you indulge in? I love ice cream!

If you could tell people one piece of advice, what would it be? All foods can be included into a healthy diet. If you slip up one day, try better the next time. No one has a perfect diet, and that’s totally normal.

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