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Today we’re continuing our series looking into what food and nutrition experts typically eat. If you haven’t read part 1 or my What I Eat in a Day as a Registered Dietitian post, be sure to check those out too! Altogether, you’ll see 10 days worth of dietitian food. Hopefully it helps you to see how varied and delicious a healthy life can be – everyone’s healthy life looks different! Enjoy!

 

Kayci Sterzer, MSN, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

Kayci is from Washington State but currently lives and work in Chicago, IL. She works as a Registered Dietitian specializing in eating disorder treatment in both outpatient practice and higher levels of care. Outside of nutrition and cooking, her passions include cycling, rock climbing, tending to her 70+ plants and 2 cats, and making ceramics.


Best Nutrition Advice: Aim to find a pattern of eating that’s nourishing (for your body but also for your spirit) and feels good vs. trying to find the perfect diet. We are meant to enjoy food. Rules and restrictions are unsustainable and take away from the joy and connection that is an integral part of eating.


What she ate in a day:
Today is a little atypical for me as I’m ending my day getting on the Amtrak for a 2-week vacation. For budget reasons, I don’t often eat out multiple times in a day unless I haven’t pre-planned well or I’m on vacation, but this week groceries and meal prep were not my top priorities. I value being able to make the best of the situation you’re in, so even though this might not appear to be an “ideal” day when someone conceptualizes what a dietitian eats, I don’t feel stressed about it. There is space for flexibility in healthy eating.


Starting my day off I love to do a combo of sweet (butter + jam) and savory (avocado + hot sauce) toast, which I have with a latte for a combo of protein + caffeine and some fruit (ataulfo mango today). For lunch, I splurged and bought up some sushi with edamame, miso soup, and a salad. For snacks I had yogurt and kombucha in the morning and later some chocolate-covered cherries. This yogurt is a pretty generous portion, which I did finish today since I biked to work and was hungry for it. For dinner, I intended to buy something in the dining car of the train, but essentially all the “meals” were sold out. I ended up picking a cheese and cracker plate and added some hummus with pretzels. I ate most of that, plus I split a single-serve Chardonnay with a friend I’m traveling with. It’s not the most normal meal, but met my macronutrient needs for the start of my trip tomorrow.

 



 

Allison Davies, MS, RD

Allison lives in Vancouver, WA. She worked as a primary practice RD for about four years but has stayed home with her 14-month old son for the last year. She loves going for walks and reading historical fiction books. Her favorite foods are tacos and Thai red curry and her favorite candy is Skittles.

 

Best nutrition advice: Make a meal plan for the week before grocery shopping. It’s a good way to make sure you’re eating a variety of different foods and also cut down on food waste.

 

What she ate in a day:

 

 

My typical day usually revolves around my son’s nap schedule and some sort of outing in the afternoon. On this day, I packed a lunch to eat at my parents’ house. There are a few things I do every week that keeps the stress off of meal prep while trying to tend to my son. On Sundays I sit down and meal plan every meal. There are definitely meals that repeat, especially breakfast, but it takes the guesswork out of what to make and ensures that I buy enough ingredients at our weekly grocery store stop. I will also prep veggies and cut up meats in the evening after my son goes to bed to be ready for the next day. My son and I eat at the same times and primarily the same foods, except for choking hazards like nuts (and I do cut his foods differently). One part of this day that is not so typical is actually the cup of coffee! I only have coffee drinks once or twice a week and it’s usually a vanilla latte. 🙂

For breakfast at 7 am I ate scrambled eggs with 1 slice turkey bacon (the bacon was cooked the night before), an apricot, 1/2 bagel with cream cheese, and a cup of coffee with splash of whole milk. My lunch was around 11:30 am and included a turkey and Swiss sandwich on Dave’s Killer thin sliced wheat bread with 1/2 avocado and some sour cream and onion Pop Chips. Around 2:30 I ate a snack of homemade trail mix made of walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds (all unsalted), and dark chocolate chips. I prepped the trail mix earlier in the week.

We ate dinner around 5-5:30 pm. The dinner included chicken sausage and zucchini I had prepped the night before, as well as red beans and rice. Around 7:30 I snacked on one or two clusters of these dark chocolate nuggets from Costco.

 



 

Diana Reid, MPH, RDN

Diana currently lives in Europe with her husband and three children, in the tiny country of Luxembourg. She provides nutritional counseling and coaching both in-person and online or via telephone to clients throughout the world through her practice The Global Dietitian. She also spends part of the summer (and often the December holidays) in the Seattle, WA area. Diana holds a Masters of Public Health degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. Additionally, she has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Washington University in the field of marketing and business administration.

 

Best nutrition advice: Focus on what you can add to your diet rather than always worrying about what to take out. Can you add more fruit and veg? Can you drink more water? These are underestimated, powerful tools.

 

What she ate in a day:

 

 

My day started with fruit, Greek yogurt, granola, and a bit of cottage cheese for breakfast. I was on the run during lunch and ended up eating lentil salad with some sriracha sauce for extra flavor. Later for an afternoon snack, I had cherries and a protein bar to get me through until dinner. Dinner was shrimp, rice and quinoa salad with tomatoes and avocado. Finally, to top it all off, ya gotta have dessert! Tonight’s was a fruit plate topped with some chocolate sauce for good measure. 🙂

 



 

Jessica Forsman, RD, CD

Jessica Forsman has her bachelor’s degree in Food Science & Human Nutrition and has been a Registered Dietitian for 11 years. She initially practiced as a clinical dietitian before transitioning into hospital dietary management and later into healthcare administration. She is currently an Executive Director over Physician Services at a hospital in western Washington. Outside of work, she loves having downtime at home with her husband and spending time with family.

 

Best nutrition advice: Keep it simple. Focus on fruits and vegetables. Don’t go to extremes or overly restrict. Enjoy what you eat!

 

What she ate in a day:

 

 

I chose a fairly typical Monday to highlight. I woke up late, but had prepped lunches the night before and had blueberries and almonds on hand for an easy breakfast. I’m not always motivated to prep our lunches a day ahead, but I’ve found that it makes all the difference when it comes to getting out the door on time and eating well throughout the day. Plus, it just feels good to be organized.

Breakfast included blueberries & roasted almonds and coffee with half & half. Later for lunch I ate ½ sandwich with 2 slices of smoked turkey, 1 slice cheddar & a thin layer of mayo on Dave’s Killer Bread. On the side were fresh veggies, kettle cooked chips, cherries and sparkling water. Nutrition tip: when buying deli meats, I usually look for natural brands without added nitrates/nitrites and where I can recognize all of the ingredients on the label. I especially like Applegate Naturals.

Later in the afternoon I ordered a double tall iced white chocolate mocha without the whipped cream. It’s important to choose foods that are satisfying – and for me, that usually means opting for the real thing. I rarely eat light or diet foods simply because I don’t enjoy them. By not restricting the foods that I enjoy, I find that I’m usually content with less. For an afternoon snack I ate string cheese & the rest of the cherries that I didn’t finish at lunch.

After work I snacked on seasoned tortilla chips. I do my best never to get too hungry and will frequently opt for snacks. In this case, dinner was only about 20 minutes away, but I still felt like I would be too hungry by the time dinner was ready if I didn’t eat something. Snacks are a tool that I use to avoid overeating.

We had company over the day prior and had two crab cakes, asparagus and roasted potatoes left over. Not enough on its own to feed two of us, so I added salad with Annie’s Papaya Poppy Seed Dressing, ½ piece of toast on Dave’s Killer Bread with a 50/50 butter/canola oil blend, and blueberries. I usually only have time to cook 2-3 nights in a given week, but I try to leverage (and even plan for) leftovers whenever I can. I also try to keep easy dinners on hand for those days when things don’t go as planned. Finally, I topped the night off with an evening snack of chocolate peanut butter granola with milk!

 



 

More to come?

 

I would like to sincerely thank each of these dietitians who were willing to take the time to help me with this project and allow us a peek into their day-to-day. This is a series I would love to continue to show the variety of options out there in regard to healthy eating. Within the community of Registered Dietitians, there are men, women, vegan/vegetarians, dietitians with food intolerances, dietitians from all different cultures, and more. If you or someone you know is a Registered Dietitian who would be willing to share their “what I eat in a day,” I would love to feature it! Let me know with this contact form.

 

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Healthy Lifestyles

 

My last two posts covered the basics about what dietitians are (and do) and what I eat in a day as a Registered Dietitian. In the latter I talked about how everyone’s healthy life looks different. It’s important to find what works in your own life, not to follow a random diet plan or copy what someone else does. Along those lines, I thought it might be fun to explore what a normal day looks like for other dietitians. This two-part series will feature several different dietitians working in different areas and what they ate in a given day. You’ll read about three different dietitians below – stay tuned for more in an upcoming post!

 

Molly Koczarski, MS, RDN, LDN

Molly is a Registered Dietitian located in Whispering Pines, North Carolina. She has been a dietitian for 11 years and she recently graduated with her Master’s Degree from Central Michigan University. She is just about to start a new position as an outpatient dietitian for First Health of the Carolinas where she will be working with a wide variety of medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, food allergies, etc. When Molly isn’t working she likes to spend her time with her husband, 4-year-old daughter, and dog. She enjoys fitness, cooking, and coming up with new recipes. She is an avid peanut butter lover and loves a good glass of wine.

 

Best nutrition advice: There is no “one size fits all” diet. Focus on moderation and mindful eating. Food should be enjoyed, not restricted. Building a healthy relationship with food is the key to success!

 

What she ate in a day:

 

The day started at 6:30 with a hearty breakfast of eggs (1 egg + 2 egg whites) mixed with some arugula, a side of fresh strawberries, and a Birch Benders protein waffle with slices of avocado on top.  After seeing a few patients at work I found myself pretty hungry and snacked on this delicious Greek Yogurt by Light and Fit with a serving of Trader Joes “Just a Handful” trail mix. Hit the spot!

After going on a 30-minute lunch walk I found myself ready to eat again. I prepped a macro bowl for lunch today and it consisted of spring mix and some raw vegetables, some instant pot shredded chicken, and a side of brown rice and quinoa mix. I added some oil and vinegar on my salad for some healthy fats, as well as sprinkled some hemp seeds on top. At 3:30 with an hour to spare at work, I found myself once again ready for a snack so I chomped on a yummy and delicious apple to hold me over until dinner.

After a good workout it was time to eat dinner. With the weather being so nice lately we decided to grill some turkey burgers. We had a salad on the side for our veggie. I added some avocado on my bun (but you can’t see it in the photo). Before getting settled for the night I wanted to have a little “dessert” so I had some chamomile tea (not pictured) with one of my delicious homemade protein muffins. My dog Izzy wanted some too, as you can see.

That’s a typical day for me. I usually eat 3 meals plus 2-3 snacks throughout the day. I always try to balance out my carbs, protein and fat and really focus on getting in my vegetables. I also opt for healthy fats and definitely don’t deprive myself of any particular food or food group.

 



 

Anne Corley, MSM, RDN, CD, LC

As a Life Coach and Registered Dietitian with over 26 years in clinical practice, Anne is passionate about promoting wellness (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) with her clients. She loves helping people have “A Ha!” moments in improving their life and their health, and moving their dreams into the realm of the possible. She has partnered with clients who have made significant, meaningful changes in their lives in many areas; health, career, relationships, etc. through her practice Nourish Your Wellness Now. In all areas she has truly enjoyed the opportunity to share her knowledge and experience through coaching, training and instruction in order to help improve the well-being of her clients/patients.

Best nutrition advice: Listen to your gut, literally and figuratively. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied.

What she ate in a day:

 

 

Today I woke up in Dingle, Ireland on a long-awaited trip with my 3 sisters. We’ve been staying at Bed & Breakfasts all along the way; today was no exception. Breakfast was a fairly typical offering of Continental and hot breakfast. Always there is the push for the traditional Irish breakfast which is bacon, eggs, sausage, black & white “pudding” (blood sausage), tomatoes, (optional sautéed mushrooms & baked beans), and brown bread & toast with butter & jam. Also fruit, yogurt, cereal, croissants, etc. along with tea and coffee. My normal breakfast is a Shakeology smoothie on my way to work, but I figured “when in Ireland…” Plus, have you ever tried to tell an Irish woman who is your host, “No, thank you”? Apparently you just don’t do that here. 😉

So up to this point I have been ordering the bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms (and once the beans…I’ve never been a fan of baked beans but I thought somehow these might be different. Nope. Not doing that again!) I have not tried the “pudding” at all; I just can’t bring myself to do it. Today I ordered bacon (Irish bacon is more like our ham or Canadian bacon), tomatoes and mushrooms, and I had Muesli and plain yogurt with berries. Also, lots and lots of tea using part sugar/part stevia and milk (not sure what type of milk, but it was at least 2% if not whole). I ended up eating two bowls of Muesli and only one of the pieces of bacon.

After breakfast we packed up and left for our Air B&B at the Cliffs of Moher (about a 3 hour drive) with a trip by ferry included. When we stopped at a “quickie mart,” as we frequently do, I got a sparkling water and I added True Lemon to it (I drink a lot of water but have never learned to like it plain, so I usually add True Lemon, True Orange, or fresh lemon or lime).

Because the breakfasts have been so big and usually later than I normally eat, we have had “linner” most days and then something light or fun later. Once we got into town, we stopped at a restaurant to have “linner” (lunch/dinner) before our hike on the cliffs at 4:00pm. I had the most delicious salad! Here’s the quote from the menu: “mixed leaves, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, caramelized onion, shredded carrot and honey roasted sunflower seeds with Spanish goats cheese, a hint of pesto and grilled chicken fillet.” I had soda water and lime to drink. Normally I would have also checked out the dessert menu, but we didn’t have time. We had to hurry through “linner” because we were running short on time. We started the hike a little after 4:00pm; it was 10k distance and about 850 feet of elevation gain and it took us about 3 hours. It was very windy, but we were blessed with some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen!

 

 

When we returned from the hike (around 7:00pm) our host had made fresh scones for us, with jam and butter and tea or coffee. I had one scone with jam and a nice sized cup of tea, with milk and sugar/stevia. And then chugged a big glass of water!

 



 

Danae Shelley, RD, CDE

Danae is a dietitian and nutrition supervisor at a nonprofit group of medical clinics based in South Seattle. In July of 2019, she will have been a dietitian for 6 years. For Danae, the years of being an RD have really flown by!

Danae got married in September 2018 and lives in Renton with her husband and their min-pin, Max. They love spending time together and going out and meeting new people. They also enjoy traveling (both around Washington and elsewhere), taking Max to the dog park, dancing (especially salsa and bachata), and trying out new ice cream places!  

 

Best nutrition advice: Just aim to make one small positive choice every day toward improving your health!

 

What she ate in a day:

During the work week, I tend to get up with just enough time to shower, get ready, and feed the dog, etc., so I don’t normally leave a whole lot of time to make breakfast. Breakfast is usually on the go and usually eaten on my way to work or when I get to work as I prepare for the day ahead. This morning I whipped together a strawberry protein shake made with 1% milk for some added protein that keeps me full all morning, along with my much needed cup of coffee with a few tablespoons of creamer.

Due to a meeting I had at my normal lunch hour, I had to have a little snack to tide me over until I was able to eat. I had forgotten I had an English cucumber in the fridge, so last night I sliced it up and portioned half of it into a Ziploc bag.

In my house, we are the king and queen of leftovers (when we have them)! My husband is tall and eats a lot, so sometimes he eats all of the meal and there isn’t any for leftovers. Today was left over vegetable burger soup (I know it’s too hot outside for soup, but it’s cold in my office with the a/c, so it’s not that bad). The soup has lean ground beef (93/7), stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, mixed vegetables and onion soup mix. I also had a small cup of strawberry yogurt. It’s hard to find yogurt that is low in sugar, but this one has 2 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein. I originally had the fruit cup planned to go with my lunch, but I was feeling a little full after my soup and yogurt, so I decided to hold off and have it for a snack later. I normally don’t do a lot of canned fruit, but I had a coupon for this product and thought I would give it a try. It was a mixture of mango and chia seeds, which are a great source of omega-3. It was a burst of fruitiness to get me through the rest of the work day!

For dinner, Queen of the Leftovers strikes again! After a bit of a longer of a commute that normal, I got home later than I usually do, and therefore was hungry. The night before, I intended to make some enchiladas, however due to a tortilla malfunction, I had to turn it into enchilada lasagna, made up of ground turkey, chili beans, seasonings, layered with whole wheat tortillas and topped with Monterey jack cheese and enchilada sauce. I had a square of that with a little helping of sour cream on top.  I washed it down with a glass of water. After doing some stuff around the house and yardwork outside, I was feeling a bit hungry, so I reached for a small bag of popcorn with light sea salt and green tea. Its low calorie and high in fiber. You can see from the picture, it’s so yummy even Max wants a taste!

 

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Healthy Lifestyles

Are dietitians the same as nutritionists?

 

I recently wrote a post called What I Eat in a Day as a Registered Dietitian. Some of you may be wondering what exactly a Registered Dietitian is, and probably even more of you are wondering if or how it is different from a nutritionist. I can help! Here are some of the basics about Registered Dietitians and what we do.

 

What is a Registered Dietitian?

 

Registered Dietitian is the designation given by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (at least in the US) to people who have completed certain requirements to be considered nutrition experts. Here are the requirements from the Academy to become an RD:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree – The classes you take must meet nutrition-related requirements set forth by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, a brand of the Academy. Some course requirements include anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, basic nutrition, macronutrients, micronutrients, clinical nutrition, food science, weight management, and medical nutrition therapy.
  • Complete nutrition internship hours in a variety of settings – Since dietitians work in so many different types of roles, internships need to include several of those experiences. My internships included clinical inpatient nutrition, outpatient nutrition counseling, food service management, dialysis nutrition, childhood nutrition at a WIC clinic, and senior nutrition with Meals on Wheels.
  • Pass the RD exam – This test covers all of the required competencies put forth by the Academy

Registered Dietitians must also complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years to maintain their registration.

 

How are dietitians different from nutritionists?

 

Simply put, “nutritionist” is not a protected term, while “dietitian” is. Nutritionist is a term for anyone who teaches about nutrition, while dietitian is reserved for those who have met the criteria described above. So all dietitians are inherently nutritionists, because they teach nutrition, but not all nutritionists have completed the requirements to become dietitians.

This obviously creates a bit of confusion for consumers – I get these types of questions all the time! A few years ago, the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics also coined the term “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist,” and allows their RDs (or RDNs) to use that term if desired to help clarify their roles as nutritionists.

 



 

Where do dietitians work?

Dietitians are working all around you, and you may not even realize it! Dietitians may do all of the following:

  • Calculate recommendations for tube and IV feedings and nutrition supplementation for critically ill patients in hospitals
  • Plan nutritionally balanced menus for large food service operations at long-term care facilities and schools
  • Teach nutrition for general health, managing and preventing chronic medical conditions, and navigating food allergies/intolerances in private practices, hospitals, medical clinics, and chiropractic offices
  • Provide nutritional guidance to low-income populations in WIC clinics and community health centers
  • Teach specialized diets for clients in dialysis centers
  • Monitor the nutritional health of residents in long-term care facilities
  • Provide nutrition information to the public via social media, blogs, websites, newspapers, etc.
  • Support athletic performance with proper nutrition in health clubs, gyms, on military bases, and with sports teams

These are just some examples of roles that dietitians fill. Stay tuned, because I plan to make a post soon featuring “a day in the life” of several different dietitians who all work in different settings, to give you an idea of what all kinds of different dietitians eat!

 

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Archives

 

Being married to a dietitian, my husband is often asked, “What does she eat? I bet she eats perfectly all the time!” He usually chuckles and tells them about my love for ice cream and all things salty, including tortilla chips with “plastic cheese” (you know, the liquid “cheese-like food product” you get from a high school football game concession stand? Mmmm…) Eating to feed both your body and your soul is important! If you what you eat most of the time is good for your body, then you can enjoy soul food sometimes without guilt or health consequences.

 

I thought I would take the opportunity to show you what one Registered Dietitian eats in a day…or rather, three days. I chose to include three days to give you a better average and to avoid the bias of a “perfect day” since I knew I would be recording it. As you read through this post, try not to compare my diet with yours. Everyone’s healthy looks different, and there is no one right way to eat! What matters is that what you eat works for your body, your life, your schedule, and your happiness. These days represent what works for me.

 

Day 1

7:00 am – The day started with a tropical smoothie that contained leftover banana and pineapple with some spinach, nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, orange juice, and chia seeds. As always and of course, I had a cup of tea!

 

healthy breakfast

 



 

10:30 am – Mid-morning after a few hours of work, hunger set in and I had a piece of whole wheat toast with some spreadable butter.

 

healthy bread

 

 

12:35 pm – After my workout I was very ready for lunch! Lunch was a leftover mish-mash. A large salad with a salmon burger patty, sunflower seeds, croutons, and bleu cheese dressing. Clementine kombucha to drink!

 

healthy lunch

 

1:30 pm – Not too long after lunch I realized that it hadn’t been quite enough and that I was needing a bit more in the way of carbohydrates for energy to get me through the afternoon. I had one of these marshmallow pies left over from our Memorial Day camping trip. It went peacefully.

 

tasty treat

 

6:30 pm – I gardened for a few hours and then I was ravenous! For dinner I made beef ravioli with marinara and sauteed mushrooms, onions, and spinach.

 

beef ravioli with spinach, onions, and mushrooms in marinara

 



 

8:30 pm – While watching Captain America: Winter Soldier with my kids in the evening, I had one of these raspberry fruit juice popsicles. So delicious!

 

 

Day 2

7:15 am – We still had leftover  pineapple, so I made another tropical smoothie with pineapple, leftover fruit salad, and spinach. I also made toast and a poached curried egg, so I didn’t add the Greek yogurt to the smoothie this time.

 

 

9:45 am – Snack time! In between appointments I nibbled on some roasted ranch flavored chickpeas for some carbohydrate and protein.

 

 

11:30 am – After seeing another client and doing a quick pilates workout, I ate the last of the leftover salad and the leftover ravioli from last night for lunch. I chased it with a square of Dove chocolate. Yum!

 

 

 



 

1:15 pm –  Throughout the afternoon, I focused on blogging and admin work. I snacked on raw veggies w/light ranch dip and clementine oranges.

 

 

4:25 pm – Hunger set in and I still had one more client until dinner. I had exhausted the food I brought for the day, so I walked around the corner to Arby’s for some of their snack-sized curly fries. I. Love. Curly Fries.

 

 

7:15 pm – This particular night at our house is a “use up” night, so I get the night off from cooking and everyone eats their own thing. Tonight, I finished off some leftover homemade baked beans and butternut squash.

 

 

Day 3

7:35 am – Today I ate a bit of an unconventional breakfast. Today’s tropical smoothie included pineapple, 1/2 canned peach, spinach, orange juice, and milk. Alongside that was the rest of a half-eaten sandwich prepared by one of our boys and then abandoned. Poor sandwich. So I played garbage disposal today. 🙂  #momlife

 

 



 

12:30 am – I was running late to work and was busy seeing clients once I arrived, so I didn’t get a chance for my mid-morning snack. I was HUNGRY by lunch time. So hungry that I skipped my workout and went straight for food. Today, I ate some pasta salad that I doctored up with chicken, corn, and sauteed peppers and spinach. Once I started eating it, I realized that it didn’t have very much chicken in it, so I tossed in a handful of my roasted ranch chickpeas for some added protein.

 

 

5:30 pm – I ate a lot of pasta salad for lunch, so I never got hungry for my afternoon snack. Plus, we were eating an early dinner so we could get to my son’s band concert on time. For dinner, I made pupusas (a Salvadoran savory corn “pancake” with chicken, cheese, and refried beans). I topped mine with salsa and ate a couple of leftover spiced pears. More kombucha to drink!

 

 

9:30 pm – After the concert, they had cookie trays and I love me a good white chocolate macadamia nut cookie! So delicious.

 



 

So there you have it! Three pretty typical, if not unvarying, examples of days in my food life. In hindsight, I perhaps shouldn’t have chosen 3 days in a row simply because I eat a lot of leftovers so several things showed up repeatedly. For example, I don’t usually have a smoothie every morning, but I did for these three days since we had leftover pineapple we needed to use up.

Other than that, these days show the typical pattern that works for me: balanced healthful meals with a treat or two just about every day. I love the food that I eat. Having plenty of tasty healthful foods I love and not denying myself “unhealthful” delicious treats in moderation makes for a great and delicious balance. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or ideas for other posts you would like to see!

 

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Healthy Lifestyles

do you have a food addiction?

 

Many of my clients wonder if they have a problem with food, because they find themselves craving sugar or bingeing on snacks or treats, especially at nighttime. There are several steps you can take to identify or overcome food addiction. The first and most important thing is to determine what causes your food cravings. Determining the cause will help you discover whether or not you have a food addiction or if there is another potential cause for your food cravings.

 

How to Determine what triggers your cravings

 

Check in with your intakes 

Most of the time, cravings are a response to a need for fuel. Many of my clients get cravings in the evenings, especially for sweets or salty snacks, because they are undereating either carbohydrates or calories throughout the day. More than half of my clients who are trying to lose weight are actually undereating, so honestly assess the possibility that you might be over-restricting. Common symptoms include low energy, poor sleep (or sleeping too much), brain fog, fatigue, memory issues, and food cravings, especially cravings for carbohydrates or sugar.

If you aren’t sure (most of my clients assume they need to eat less than they actually should), find a Registered Dietitian to help you know how much you should actually eat. For reference, most adult clients should be eating more than 1400 calories and well over 100 grams of carbohydrate daily (even if you’re trying to lose weight or if you have diabetes). Calorie tracking apps and online calculators are often inaccurate.

 



 

Assess your emotions

If you are certain you are meeting your body’s nutritional needs and you still struggle with a compulsion to eat unhealthful foods on a regular basis, try looking at your emotions. The second most common cause of food cravings has to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel content. Negative emotions are usually paired with low dopamine. The brain sees low dopamine as a problem that needs to be fixed and will often go hunting for a way to raise it. Eating delicious food is a quick way to get a rush of dopamine, so often our brains go straight to the fridge to fix the problem. Your brain doesn’t care if you eat ice cream, it wants dopamine. Ask yourself if you are experiencing a negative emotion. Boredom, loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression are common culprits.

If so, the first line of attack is to try to raise dopamine in a way that doesn’t involve food. You can do this by turning to an activity that you truly enjoy. Calling a friend, doing a crossword, going for a walk, or reading a book are examples of activities my clients have used. The key is that you enjoy it – otherwise it doesn’t raise your dopamine!

Sometimes you don’t have the time to do an alternative activity, so the next line of attack is to try to find a healthier food option. Craving salty snacks? Go for a couple handfuls of tortilla chips with salsa,  pretzels, or whole grain chips or crackers (Sun Chips and Triscuits are great options). Sweet tooth calling out to you? Try frozen grapes,  graham crackers, or berries with vanilla yogurt or whipped topping.

Finally, if you know that a healthier activity or alternative will not do the trick, it’s not a failure. The best thing you can do is try to moderate the amount of food you eat. Three to four bites of a desired food can cause the peak amount of dopamine response within the following 10-15 minutes. The take-home message? Rather than eat continually until your dopamine peaks and you feel better, try to savor that tasty food for 3-4 bites then wait 10-15 minutes. After that, reassess to see if you still feel like you need more.

 



 

Seek an outside opinion

If you have evaluated the above topics and are still struggling to get to the root of your food cravings, it could be possible that you have a food addiction. Evaluation for food addiction is still in its early stages. Researchers from Yale University have created a food addiction scale but the scoring system is complex and it is not widely used. For now, the best method is to meet with a Registered Dietitian and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Since food addiction by nature exhibits crossover between mental health and food habits, each professional can have valuable perspective. If it turns out that you do have addictive food behaviors, a holistic treatment plan will involve them both as well.

 

You Might Also Enjoy

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15 weight loss tips from a Registered Dietitian

How to Meal Plan to Save Time and Money (with free printable meal-planning template)

 



How Your Body Works Wellness Tips

Sometimes life gets in the way of meeting the goals we want to meet…some things don’t seem realistic in the moment, but that doesn’t mean you should let the time pass you by! Learn something new, take a baby step, or build on your basics. Just keep moving forward!

 

keep moving forward

Goal Setting

 

To round out this series on fitness for backpacking, I thought I would offer you a little bonus post on nutrition for the trail.

Good choices for trail foods are:

  • lightweight
  • do not require refrigeration
  • are nutrient dense
  • may or may not require cooking – while either can work if you bring a stove, this is a factor to consider!

Some of the parameters you might look for in your day-to-day food might be a bit different when hiking or backpacking. Your needs for calories, carbohydrates, and sodium are higher when you are active (especially if you’re carrying a pack). Don’t worry if some of the foods you eat are higher in these nutrients than what you normally eat. Here is a list of ideas for meals and snacks while hiking or backpacking:

 

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal – Portion oatmeal, dried fruits, protein powder, cinnamon, and brown sugar into individual packets or zipper plastic bags.
  • Breakfast bars – Homemade or store-bought bars that contain whole-grain carbohydrates and protein can be great options. Oats, nuts, seeds, honey, and dried fruits are all good potential ingredients. Here is a recipe for homemade breakfast bars that I’ve made before and enjoyed!
  • Instant Breakfast Packets – While these are probably not sufficient by themselves to prep you for a day of hiking, you can mix these packets into your oatmeal, coffee, or water for some added carbohydrate and protein.

 



 

Lunch

  • Wraps – Whole-grain tortillas with peanut butter and a banana or a pouch of chicken with spinach are easy to whip out for a quick lunch break.
  • Hummus “plate” – Depending on how long you’re hiking, you can sometimes get away with some crunchier veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower) in your bag for a day or two. Toss in some pita bread and a container of hummus and you’ve got a nutritious and delicious no-cook meal.

 

Dinner

  • Pasta- Particularly if you’ve hiked all day, do not fear the carbohydrates! Pouches of pasta sides are convenient and easily cooked with a camp stove. Add a packet of chicken or tuna or some slices of summer sausage for protein, and toss in some dehydrated veggies.
  • Beans and rice – Find a mix of rice and beans to which you can add some dry ranch dressing or onion soup mix and some dehydrated veggies. Boil it up!
  • Freeze-dried backpacking meals – These guys can be super-light and very convenient, but sometimes expensive. Watch to make sure they have the right amount of calories, carbohydrates, and protein for you after a long day on the trail. Unless you’ve been sweating a lot throughout the day, aim to keep the sodium under 40% DV.

 



 

Snacks

  • Dried fruits – These make excellent snacks, loaded with carbohydrates for energy and are quite light with all of the water dehydrated from them. Try dried peaches, strawberries, kiwis, or bananas.
  • Trail mix – Sorry to state the obvious, but this high-calorie, high nutrient density snack is really in its element in the out-of-doors.
  • Harvest Snaps – These crunchy puffed snacks made from peas, lentils, and other legumes have carbohydrate (important when hiking), protein, and a decent amount of fiber. Plus they are very light!
  • Whole grain crackers – Light and nutritious, these help provide necessary fiber and energy.
  • Jerky – Buy it or marinate and dehydrate some yourself.
  • Treats – Pack a little something to treat yourself after a long day of hoofing it! Choose individual packages of a favorite cookie or candy to enjoy around the campfire.

 

You Might Also Like:

What to do When Your Healthy Plan Falls Through

Top 5 Tips for a Quick Healthy Breakfast

How to Meal Plan on a Budget (step-by-step walkthrough)

 

 



Hiking/Backpacking