Over the years, I’ve been asked a few times what I eat as a dietitian. I’ve been asked, “do you eat pizza and ice cream? Do you eat dessert?” And to that I reply, of course! To help you get an idea of what a registered dietitian actually eats, here’s a breakdown of what I eat in a day. And yes, that includes snacks. (And even a cocktail!)
As a dietitian I’ve learned how our lifestyle, food choices, genetics, upbringing and environments influences our food choices. I’ve learned the tools to successfully indulge in my favorite foods, incorporate more nutrient-dense foods, and balance out my meals and snacks. I continue to work on developing a healthy relationship with food. Yes, I am a Registered Dietitian, but I am also so many other things, and food plays a big role in my life, as I’m sure it does yours too.
I am not perfect, nor will I ever pretend to be! I firmly believe there is a time and place to enjoy foods and drinks, but it’s important to try to not overdo it. But I believe in choosing your food to fuel your body, and remembering to sit back, enjoy foods and drinks.
I’ll be happy to share with you what I ate today, the reasons why I chose these foods, some of their benefits, and what these foods mean to me. This is a typical Sunday for me as I’m working on wrapping up my housework, prepping the weeks’ lunches and dinners, and allowing myself some downtime.
My One-Day Food Diary:
What I Eat In A Day: Breakfast
Ugh. I really don’t enjoy breakfast, I never really did. I’m never too hungry first thing in the morning, so I eat accordingly, and it’s usually something quick. I tend to eat something super light or maybe just some seltzer or water to hydrate. This morning around 8:30 I enjoyed some dried figs and watermelon. I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but I love fruit. Figs are my new thing too. As a kid my dad was so proud of his fig tree, but I never liked figs. Last year he cooked some homemade fig jam and I fell in love. Now, when I eat figs, it brings me back to my childhood, and more importantly, my dad. Food does that.
Never stop trying food, either! Even if you didn’t like it in the past, tastes changed, and you might be surprised.
Side note: Figs are underrated, and are a wonderful addition to your diet. My 2oz serving nourished me with 140 calories, 6 grams of filling fiber, almost 25% of my daily need, and almost 400mg of my 4700mg of potassium. Dried figs are low in fat and sodium. A 1 oz portion does include 14g of total sugar, though naturally occurring. Because these figs are dried, the sugar content is more concentrated and something to take into consideration.
I was able to get a start of my hydration with the watermelon. A one cup serving of watermelon is filling due to its water content. It also gives you about 16% of your recommended vitamin C.
Also Read: 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushroom
What I Eat In A Day: Lunch
Now we’re talking. I love lunch. It’s my meal. When I cook dinner I have to accommodate my and my husband’s likes and dislikes. But lunch is all for me. Today the menu called for some hearty, homemade ham and bean soup. I made it earlier this year from a leftover ham bone, and it freezes beautifully. Soup is super easy to make, inexpensive, and I enjoy it year round. Yes, even in summer. I love making my own soups since I can control the ingredients , especially salt.
This is one of my main dietary concerns to help control hypertension. Sneaking in some extra veggies is a plus. I load my ham soup up with a combination of canned (and well-rinsed) cannellini and Great Northern beans, plenty of chopped carrots, some onions and celery. Then, I finished my lunch with a bowl of freshly picked strawberries from a small local farm, and a dollop of whipped cream to sweeten it up even more.
I’m a big fan of the saltiness of the ham. And it made a great stock for my soup without me needing to add salt. The carrots added sweetness, fiber, and some beta-carotene (vitamin A) for eye health. A good portion of my protein for the day came from the beans, in addition to fiber and iron. All those aspects come into consideration when I think about what I eat in a day.
Also Read: 5 Foods this RD would never eat
Believe it or Not, Lunch Includes Dessert
June is the month for strawberries, and I took advantage. My bowl of just-picked, local strawberries topped with whipped cream felt more of a dessert than just fruit. The berries were sweet, juicy, and refreshing. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, which also helps improve iron absorption from the beans. Strawberries also provide fiber for cholesterol management,l heart health, and helps me stay full during the day.
Also Read: The healthiest cooking oils, ranked
What I Eat In A Day: Snacks
I try to be careful with my snacks as I can go overboard quickly. I continue to try to find ways to incorporate more veggies into my diet on the weekends. Cue the pickled carrots and cauliflower I made last week. I love crunch, and the cauliflower and carrots gave me the crunch I needed while helping me meet my veggie quota for the day. Is it the same as some potato chips, or tortilla chips and salsa? No. I wish. But, it’s filling, crunchy, tangy, and it was what I needed for the afternoon.
One cup of cauliflower provides 2 grams of fiber (see a trend in my food choices?), and is high in vitamin C. Cauliflower is also a good source of vitamin K, an important nutrient for blood clotting and bone health.
What I Eat In A Day: Dinner
I love Sunday dinner. It wraps up the weekend nicely. As a kid, Sunday dinner was always a little nicer: the better china, eating in the dining room vs the kitchen. It included roasted meat of some sort and potatoes. For me, it’s important to honor that tradition that celebrates family time and food.
Dinner is usually my time to shine to show off my cooking skills. Not tonight. I put my husband in charge since dinner needed to be grilled, and I’m not the best at grilling. Tonight’s dinner included the standard Sunday trio: meat, starch, vegetable. We enjoyed some grilled chicken drumsticks and thighs, grilled potato slices and roasted asparagus.
The chicken was juicy, and I enjoyed the tender, richer, dark meat compared to the breast that I normally cook with. Also, don’t forget the chicken skin. Yes, the skin is high in saturated fat, but it gets so crispy and the sugars from the barbeque sauce caramelize, and so I splurge as I don’t eat dark meat often. It was a great memory of Sunday dinners.
And Yes…This Includes a Cocktail
With dinner I indulged in a peach Long Island Iced Tea, which was unusual for me to drink on a Sunday. My husband was working towards perfecting his LIITs and needed a guinea pig to try out today’s batch. It was a tough grenade to jump on, but someone had to do it. In case you were wondering, yeah he did a good job.
Breakfast – Dried figs and watermelon
Lunch – Homemade ham and bean soup, strawberries with whipped cream
Snack – Pickled carrots and cauliflower
Dinner – Chicken drumsticks and thighs (with the skin!), roasted potatoes and asparagus; Peach Long Island Iced Tea (it was delicious)
Do I eat perfectly everyday? No, of course not. Yes, I am a Registered Dietitian, but I am also human with other commitments. Do I try to do the best I can while I live my life taking care of my house, dogs, work full-time, and taking time to enjoy some of my other hobbies? Of course. Though I may not have met 100% of all of my nutrient needs for the day, I eat as balanced as I can. Everyday is a chance to improve and learn from any set-backs from the day before. Life happens, and it gets in the way sometimes.
You have to learn to work around it, not beat yourself up if you don’t meet your expectations, and set some goals. For me personally, I have learned to help balance my diet out by planning my lunches and dinners out for the week, prep my lunches on Sundays, and do whatever prep work I can on Sundays for dinners for the week. It takes some trial and error, so do what works for you!
Christine Morgan is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who currently practices in dialysis. Her experience includes renal nutrition, food service, and geriatrics. Her education includes a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and she completed her Dietetic Internship with the University of Delaware. She is also a member of the Tri-State Renal Dietitians Association.