Written By: Erin Burke, MS, RDN, LDN
Throughout your dieting adventures and visits with your registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), have you ever wondered what the nutrition experts eat in a typical day? You may envision colorful plates of raw veggies, meticulously formulated dinners, and a pantry filled with obscure ingredients you can’t pronounce. While that last one may be true for me (I like to experiment!), you might be surprised that the majority of my meals are thrown together rather quickly and simply, often eaten out of an old Tupperware container.
Early Morning, 6:00-7:30 AM
A few days per week I like to get in the gym before work. Whether I eat before I go depends on what kind of workout I am doing and whether I wake up hungry. This day, I think I went with a few sips of orange juice which went unpictured.
After the gym, I sipped on a tall glass of low-fat chocolate milk!
Chocolate Milk provides the ideal mixture of carbohydrate and protein to replenish your muscle glycogen stores and simultaneously begin repairing your muscles. Plus it tastes great and holds me over until I can get to my breakfast!
Breakfast, 8:00 AM
Most days, my breakfast is some variety of “overnight” oatmeal. I combine all of my ingredients (rolled oats, cinnamon, chai seeds, vanilla extract, liquid, etc.) the night before and heat it up a bit in the morning. This day I had a little more time, so I made some stove top oatmeal, topped it with strawberries, and a big spoonful of almond butter before digging in. Served with a cup of coffee and I am ready to get started on this blog post!
Morning Snacks, 10:00 AM
The banana came maybe 2 hours after breakfast, and then the yogurt not long after. I try to get some protein in every couple of hours, especially on days I go to the gym. Having some protein every 3-4 hours helps your muscles get the maximum out of your workout!
Lunch, 1:30 PM
After a brief walk to stretch out my legs, it’s time for lunch. Lunch was leftover take-out (yes, sometimes even dietitians eat take-out)!
This was tofu, brown rice, and mixed vegetables. Ever wonder how to make healthy choices at a Chinese restaurant? Often, the entrees are huge. Always aim for having leftovers. One container of rice can hold about 2 cups! Second, see if the restaurant offers brown rice. Many do! Skip the sweet sauces, if you can. General Tso’s, teriyaki, and sweet and sour sauces will add a lot of sugar to your meal. Alternatively, ask to have the sauce served on the side, and use just what you need. This meal was served originally with a few pieces of broccoli. I ate all of those on the first night. I microwaved a steamable bag of stir-fry vegetables and added that to the leftovers the next day. I got three meals out of one entree, and turned a potential calorie bomb into three, reasonable meals!
Afternoon, 3:30-4 PM
We usually eat dinner pretty late, so I tend to have a snack (or three) in the afternoon. This day, I had half of a mango (reluctantly – I had to share) and some walnut crumbs from the end of a bag. There were also ~10 crackers that went unpictured. I probably should have planned a larger snack since I felt pretty hungry up until dinner. Live and Learn!
Dinner was some roasted chicken (purchased for 0.99/pound a few weeks back – frozen and defrosted today!) and some roasted potatoes and broccoli. The chicken was brushed with a maple and Dijon mustard sauce before roasting at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. This was more than enough for two people. Extra broccoli and potatoes were roasted to add to salads/lunches all week, and the leftover chicken will be used for Panini sandwiches the following night. I hate wasting food. Americans waste something incredible, around $1600 worth of food, for a family of four. I always try to repurpose, eat, or freeze leftovers. My dog gets some if she lucky.
About half of the time, I have some form of dessert. This might be an Oreo and some milk, a piece of chocolate, or, now that the weather is warm, some ice cream! I also love fresh berries when they are in season. I have found that having a small dessert whenever I want helps me keep my sweet tooth under control. I never feel deprived! This evening, it was a small bowl of chocolate brownie ice cream.
As much as I love a fancy new recipe and experimenting with new foods, it is unrealistic to set that standard every day. I try to have staple foods like oats, brown rice, beans, frozen vegetables, potatoes and lots of herbs and spices on hand to mix-in and change it up. Not going to lie – we go out to eat often! As I mentioned above, I always try to save a portion of my meal for later, and make healthier menu choices when possible.
Erin Burke is an RD/N working at the North Raleigh and Holly Springs offices. She enjoys running, particularly the half-marathon distance, and plans to complete a full marathon in the future. Her favorite foods to fuel her running include pizza, chocolate milk, and peanut butter.