As a dietitian, I try to eat foods that not only taste good, but also nourish my body. I’m also a mom. This means I need the energy to keep up with life and two very active toddlers! My patients and friends often ask what types of foods dietitians like myself eat. That’s not an easy answer, but I always try to give them a handful of food types that I try to work into my eating routine.
A healthy diet isn’t determined by what you eat in a day, what matters is what you eat over time. While each day is different, there are 5 foods that I find myself eating several days a week. I make sure I eat these foods week after week.
Foods Dietitians Eat #1. Oats
Oatmeal is one of the most underrated superfoods. And one of the foods dietitians eat more than the average person. Several mornings a week I eat a big bowl of oatmeal. I usually top it with seeds, nuts, and fruit for a hearty and satisfying start to my day.
One of the reasons oatmeal is such a great breakfast option is the high soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber is the fiber that gels up as we digest it. It slows the digestive process down and gives us a longer sensation of fullness.
A bowl of morning oats means you won’t be running to the vending machine an hour or two after breakfast.
How to Eat it: Try topping a bowl of oatmeal with flavorful and nutrient dense foods. I often opt for frozen cherries, shredded coconut, and crushed pecans. Drizzle with some raw honey if you like your oats a little sweeter!
All flatulence jokes aside, beans really are a magical fruit. If you’re like me (and you want to eat the foods dietitians eat), you’re trying to minimize consumption of animal products. Beans are a great source of protein that is great for the earth and doesn’t harm animals.
In addition to protein, beans provide an excellent source of fiber, calcium, and iron. Most American’s fall short when it comes to fiber consumption. But one cup of beans provides between 5-10g of fiber, meeting up to 1/3 of the daily recommended value.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost 25% of the world population suffers from anemia. The majority of which is caused by the lack of iron in the diet.
Beans are a great source of iron. But you may not know that Vitamin C helps you increase iron absorption. Pair your beans with foods high in vitamin C to increase absorption of that iron. Some foods that are high in Vitamin C include: all citrus, strawberries, peppers, broccoli and surprisingly, potatoes. Add any of those foods to a meal with beans and you’ll skyrocket your iron absorption.
How to Eat It: Add beans to your quesadilla tonight. Fill a whole wheat tortilla with pinto beans, spinach, and bell peppers and grill. Top with a spicy pineapple salsa! Bell peppers and spinach are great sources of Vitamin C.
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Foods Dietitians Eat #3. Dark Leafy Greens
Each week you can find a different bunch of greens in my refrigerator. Anything from swiss chard to kale or spinach. Dark leafy greens are high in folate, fiber, iron, and calcium. I try to eat a big serving every couple of days. This is one of the most important foods dietitians eat.
Eating folate rich foods is a great way to protect and improve energy levels. Needed for red blood cell formation, folate deficiency can lead to extreme fatigue and headaches. As well as more severe complications such as birth defects or heart palpitations.
How to Eat it: Toss some leafy greens in your next smoothie. If you aren’t a fan of the flavor of raw greens, toss in some fruit, peanut butter, or cocoa powder. They can help mask the taste pretty well. But if you can, try and eat your greens raw. Raw greens retain more essential nutrients that can be depleted when cooked. A great raw green option is in a smoothie.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, it really doesn’t matter what kind and I love to mix it up. More than just a sweet treat, berries are filled with soluble fiber and loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants are great because they help protect your body from the stresses and exposures of daily living.
One of the best things about berries is that they can be enjoyed in so many ways. Keep frozen blueberries in the freezer to add to a smoothie any time of year. Also add dried cherries to your homemade trail mix, or snack on fresh strawberries dipped in coconut cream!
How to Eat it: Make your next dessert a nutritious one with a frozen berry banana treat! Freeze a sliced banana and then blend in a food processor until smooth and creamy (ice cream-like texture). Top with fresh blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries along with a spoonful of coconut cream and mini dark chocolate chips!
#5. (Dark) Chocolate
Are you surprised that this is in my list of foods I eat every week? You shouldn’t be! Life without chocolate isn’t really worth living in my book. But if you’re smart about it, you can give into your chocolate cravings throughout any given week. This is the type of foods dietitians eat and then can brag about it at parties. Who doesn’t love to hear they can eat more chocolate?
But when I talk about chocolate I’m not referring to a Milky Way or Mars Bar. The best type of chocolate is dark chocolate — with at least 70% cacao. In fact, the higher percentage of cacao the better. Cacao has such a great, complex flavor and packs a much higher antioxidant punch than milk chocolate. Sure, it’s not as sweet as fistfuls of M&Ms, but it satisfies that choco-craving while providing tons of great nutrients. Of course you need to consume it in moderation. Don’t add it to every meal. But just be happy knowing you’re doing your body good with the occasional dark chocolate treat.
How to eat it: Chocolate doesn’t need much help on its own. But try adding a few dark chocolate chips to a bowl of oatmeal. Or sprinkle some on a banana smeared with peanut butter. (That one will be a go-to snack for adults and kids alike.) You’ll get your chocolate fix as part of a balanced and energizing meal or snack too!
Your diet is an important part of keeping your body healthy. Because at the end of the day, your body is a machine. And the nutrients you put into it keep it well oiled and running optimally. While this isn’t a complete list of all the foods you should eat on a regular basis, it is a great guide. Why not eat the foods dietitians eat? Plus, all these foods taste good!
Kelsey is a Registered Dietitian, freelance writer, and plant focused food blogger. She’s passionate about making plant focused eating accessible, fun, and delicious. In addition to geeking out over nutrition science, Kelsey is an herbal enthusiast and loves to experiment with homemade and natural alternatives in the home and spending time with her two small kiddos and husband.