A Day in the Life of a Dietitian-Volume 6: Vegetarian Edition
Written by: Shannon Corlett, MS, RDN, LDN
Ever wonder what your Registered Dietitian (RD) eats in a day? Yes, there are usually plenty of fruits and vegetables, but it may be surprising how many quick and convenient options are also included. After taking pictures of all my food to write this, there are a couple key strategies that stand out. First, I eat all the time. I don’t always have the opportunity to take breaks during the day, so I have to sneak in several small snacks to avoid becoming too hungry. That means that I rely heavily on regular grocery trips and prepping ahead of time. Second, my lunchbox is a lifesaver. Having all my refrigerated items in one place allows me to assess my options quickly so that I’m not wasting time searching or trying to remember what I brought. And finally, I let my body dictate when it’s time for my next meal or snack. Most days, I only eat once in the afternoon, but today a small lunch had me hungrier earlier, so I had another snack! If I hadn’t prepared extra options, that additional snack may not have been possible and I would have been ravenous by dinner time. Read on to see what a vegetarian RD typically eats in a day!
Breakfast (~7:00 AM)
My mornings are usually pretty relaxed. I wake up early and take my time leaving the house. My standard breakfast is banana- nut overnight oats that I make on Sundays and grab out of the refrigerator each morning. My recipe includes dry oats, milk, Greek yogurt, protein powder, 1/3 of a banana, and almonds (23g protein) and it keeps me full for several hours. I also make my own iced chai tea by brewing tea ahead of time and keeping it in the refrigerator. In the morning I combine this with milk and ice cubes to make a really low-calorie caffeine source (8g protein). You’ll notice that my only two steps in the morning are to combine tea and milk and grab a jar out of the refrigerator, I’m not wasting any time getting out the door!
Snack (~10:30 AM)
Greek yogurt is often my morning snack, but today we had a special treat! Like many offices, birthdays and holidays mean snacks or desserts, and today we are celebrating a birthday. Cake used to be the standard (it seemed like every week we were purchasing cake on top of any treats that were brought in to us), but as an office we decided it was time for a change. So instead of birthday cake, today there was a fruit and yogurt parfait bar! Greek yogurt, berries, granola, and mixed nuts were available to make your own treat (15g protein). I enjoyed this snack so much that I had to be very conscious of my portions, I could easily eat the entire container of berries if I wasn’t paying attention!
Lunch (1:00 PM)
Did I mention that our office has a lot of treats? Today’s lunch is Mediterranean! When food is provided at work it can be challenging to coordinate a balanced meal, so I tend to try just a little bit of everything. Fresh fruit and hummus with Kalamata olives fulfilled most of my macronutrients needs and yes, I did have a slice of pita bread for dipping. In addition to the catered lunch, which did not include a vegetable, I added my own carrots and green beans that I had packed to dip in hummus as a snack (6g protein). After lunch, it’s out for a thirty-minute walk after sitting at my desk all morning!
Snack (3:00 PM)
Snack this afternoon is beet and goat cheese salad (my favorite!) leftovers from home (8g protein). I often don’t eat snack until ~4pm, but today my hunger was telling me that it was time after a smaller lunch.
Snack (5:00 PM)
Again following my hunger, it’s time for another snack (how many times have I already eaten today??). In preparation for running after work, I know I need some carbohydrate to fuel my exercise. I usually choose fruit in the afternoon, and today it’s an apple and some almonds (3g protein). I keep the almonds in my desk, along with other non-perishable snacks like trail mix and popcorn, so that I don’t have to worry about carrying them back and forth from work each day. This gives me options beyond what’s in my lunchbox and allows me to grab something even when there’s barely a minute to spare.
Dinner (6:30-8:00 PM)
I wish I could say that dinner always happens earlier, but that’s just not realistic when your schedule varies and you like to go for a run after work. This week I’ve been trialing new cookbook recipes and tonight is sticky tofu with cauliflower and beans (17g protein). I enjoy this tofu so much that I always make extra to add to wraps at lunch for the rest of the week!
As a vegetarian, the most common question I receive is “where do you get your protein?” The honest answer is that I have a consciously include it almost every time I eat (and I eat frequently). Today, without any eggs, nut butters, or beans, all of which are common ingredients in my diet, I consumed 80g of protein, more than meeting my personal needs!