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What Nutritionists Really Eat


Nutritionists Eat Bread

"At restaurants, I could eat an entire loaf of bread with butter slathered all over it. I always allow myself two pieces. Often the bread is so fresh that it doesn't need the butter, so I skip it."
— Ellie Krieger, R.D., host of the cooking show Healthy Appetite on the Food Network

My Favorite Breakfast

About twice a month, I trade my usual whole-grain cereal with fruit for scrambled eggs (one whole egg with one egg white).

Lunch Is...

...A big salad with tomatoes and bell peppers and canned tuna for protein. I have a whole-grain roll on the side.

The Healthy Dinner I Cook Most Often

My default dinner is grilled salmon with saut?ed broccoli and steamed red potatoes tossed with olive oil and parsley.

I Eat Out Three Times a Week

My last meal was at a gourmet pizza restaurant. I had two slices of thin-crust mushroom pizza — about the same size as a traditional slice.

My Secret for Making Vegetables Taste Great

Saut?ing. I particularly like to saut? Swiss chard with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The Food I Love That Happens to Be Healthy

Potatoes — baked, boiled or mashed. If you keep the butter and cream to a minimum, they're satisfying for few calories.

The Food I Love That Happens Not to Be Healthy

French fries. I probably have them twice a month, and I try to share.

My Top Smart-Eating Tip

Don't worry about being perfect. People think if they aren't "good" all the time, they might as well eat "bad," but you can slip up and still have a nutritious diet.

Yes, I Exercise

I love being active, which means I can maintain my weight without eating like a bird. I work out about three or four days a week. Usually, I take a rigorous yoga class and a Spinning class, strength-train and jog in Central Park.

Nutritionists Eat Cheesy Rice

"About twice a month, I'll cook risotto Milanese for my family. The dish calls for a lot of butter and Parmesan cheese, and it tastes fabulous."
— Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Breakfast Is...

...A cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt, sprinkled with almonds and blueberries or strawberries.

Lunch Is...

...A whole-wheat pita stuffed with hummus, feta cheese, baby carrots, grape tomatoes and sliced cucumbers. Afterward, I eat an apple or a pear.

The Healthy Dinner I Cook Most Often

A stir-fry made with frozen Oriental vegetables, plus shrimp, scallops or tofu.

The Salad Bar Item I Avoid At All Costs

Fat-free dressings — I can't stand them!

Road-Trip Treat

When we're driving to the beach, we occasionally stop at Wendy's — my pick of the fast-food chains. I have a main-course salad and half a baked potato.

I Have Wine with Dinner...

...On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. I usually have just one glass, but if we're eating out, I may have two.

My Secret For Making Vegetables Taste Great

Roast them. I drizzle olive oil on a foil-lined cookie sheet, place vegetables like asparagus, squash and bell peppers on the tray, add a little more oil along with salt and pepper and cook at 450 degrees for five minutes.

My Favorite Dessert

I adore carrot cake, but because of the calories I have it only occasionally, like on Thanksgiving.

When I Need To Relieve Stress

I want to crunch on something, so I reach for biscotti or a hard sourdough pretzel.

I Would Never Eat...

...Fettuccine Alfredo. The calories (1,130 per serving at the Macaroni Grill) make the dish not worth it to me.

The Best Nutrition-Label Trick I Know

If a snack food has more than 200 calories a serving, I put it back on the shelf.

Yes, I Exercise

I run five times a week — 30 minutes on weekdays, 60 minutes on the weekend. I also strength-train three times a week for 20 minutes. And I spend a lot of time walking our dog!

Nutritionists Eat Taco Bell

"I really like Taco Bell's bean burritos. They're more caloric than the ones I make at home, but since I eat at Taco Bell only once in a while I enjoy it guilt-free!"
— Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., a nutritionist at Northwestern Memorial Wellness Institute in Chicago and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association

My Typical Breakfast

Oatmeal with a banana and a glass of light chocolate soy milk. I go out for brunch every weekend, though, and I usually get two scrambled eggs with fruit and an English muffin. I love brunch.

Lunch Is...

...An Amy's Organic frozen meal like the Black Bean and Vegetable Enchilada. I also microwave some extra broccoli and cauliflower.

The Healthy Meal I Cook Most Often

Veggie burgers on whole-grain buns. I pile the burger with BBQ sauce and brocco-slaw (made from broccoli, carrots, cabbage and cauliflower) that I've mixed with a little low-fat honey-mustard salad dressing.

I Eat Dinner Out Once A Week

I stick to nonfried appetizers, broth-based soups, side dishes and salads with dressing on the side.

Number Of Times a Week I Go To The Grocery Store

Five — yikes! I make one big trip and four quick ones during the week, since I don't eat out much.

My Favorite Beverage besides Water

Coffee. I'm a card-carrying member of Starbucks.

My Biggest Food Struggle and How I Handle It

Anxiety eating. When I'm tired at night and need to finish a project for work, all I want to do is eat. So I have a no-eating-at-the-computer rule. If I'm really hungry, I'll go to the kitchen for a low-fat yogurt or a 100-calorie bag of popcorn, or I'll sip a decaf coffee or tea.

How I Maintain My Weight during the Holidays

I'll enjoy quite a few of my mom's cookies at her house, but I never take any home. How much damage can you do in one day?

My Top Smart-Eating Tip:

Eat by the 25/25/50 rule. At every meal, aim to fill your plate with 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent whole grains and 25 percent lean protein, especially beans.

Yes, I Exercise

I don't give up my morning exercise, no matter what. I'm at the gym by 6 a.m. on weekdays, and I spend an hour doing a mixture of cardio and resistance training before work.

Nutritionists Eat Pizza

"I'm a vegetarian, and pizza is one of my favorite foods. I make my own: I whip up a recipe that's half whole-wheat and half regular crust and load it with vegetables and part-skim mozzarella. I cut myself a good-size slice after baking it."
— Kathy McManus, R.D., director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston

My Typical Breakfast

Whole-wheat toast spread with peanut butter, and some yogurt and fruit. About once a month I make whole-wheat waffles topped with fresh berries.

Lunch Is...

...A large green salad with veggies and some low-fat cottage cheese.

The Healthy Dinner I Cook Most Often

Whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce, eggplant and part-skim mozzarella.

I Snack at 3:30

I hit an energy low at this time of day. I have a quarter cup of nuts or a Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bar, which has 140 calories or less and lots of fiber and protein.

Favorite Comfort Food

A homemade brownie.

My Top Smart-Eating Tip

Plan! If I have two holiday parties in a row, I'll decide in advance which one I'm going to eat dessert at and which one I'm not.

The Best Nutrition-Label Trick I Know

Look for cereals that contain five grams or more of fiber and five grams or fewer of sugar. Shredded Wheat cereals meet these criteria.

Yes, I Exercise

I run six miles on my treadmill from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. while watching the news. Working out gives me more flexibility to eat what I want, since I'm burning 500 calories every morning.

Nutritionists Eat Bagels

"About once a week, I'll treat myself to a plain bagel from Ess-a-Bagel (a famous New York City bagel shop) with peanut butter on it. It's not as nutritious as my usual morning meal because it's made with white flour and doesn't have as much fiber or vitamins. But it's delicious!"
— Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D., an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University and author of The Portion Teller

My Typical Breakfast

Oatmeal with a little brown sugar, a cup of organic low-fat yogurt with blueberries and flaxseed and a small glass of grapefruit juice.

My Favorite Lunch

A slice of veggie pizza, which I get every other week. Otherwise, I have a wrap with hummus and vegetables or a salad with grilled tuna, salmon or veggie burger.

The Healthy Dinner I Cook Most Often

I bake chicken that I've coated with garlic powder, paprika and barbeque sauce and eat it with saut?ed broccoli and a baked sweet potato.

I Eat Dinner Out Three Or Four Times A Week

I usually order fish with a sauce that I couldn't make at home. Recently, I had pan-seared red snapper in a red sauce with rice pilaf, saut?ed vegetables and a Bloody Mary.

I Snack at 4 P.M.

I don't eat dinner until after 7:30, so I need a snack to help me last. I rely on fresh fruit cups, whole-wheat crackers spread with peanut butter, and frozen yogurt with peanuts.

Road-Trip Treats

Barbecue soy crisps and a V8 juice.

The Food I Love that Happens to Be Healthy

Berries. I like to microwave frozen ones until they're hot and saucy and pour them over low-fat yogurt.

Favorite Comfort Food

Peanut butter, particularly peanut butter ice cream. I'll have a scoop twice a month.

How I Maintain My Weight During the Holidays

If I eat a big meal one day, I eat less the next. If I have a big lunch, I'll have a small dinner. And at a buffet, I do only one lap.

My Must-Have Dessert

Apple crisp. I order it once a week and share it.

The Food I Would Never Eat

Mayonnaise. There's nothing I like less.

Yes, I Exercise

I swim for 30 minutes at least three times a week, take yoga classes and walk as much as possible.

Nutritionists Eat Chocolate

"I buy a box of high-quality mixed chocolates and have one piece after dinner every night. Because I allow myself this treat, I don't go overboard, and I can stop at one."
— Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University and author of Volumetrics

My Typical Breakfast

Oatmeal with skim milk, sprinkled with oat bran. About once a week, I'll make whole-wheat toast with marmalade.

My Typical Lunch

A sandwich I've brought from home, like turkey with mustard and veggies on multigrain bread. I'll also have a yogurt and a piece of fruit, like a clementine.

The Healthy Dinner I Cook Most Often

Whole-wheat penne pasta with whatever vegetables I have on hand, such as asparagus and broccoli, topped with a saut?ed chicken breast and tomato sauce. When buying pasta, look for whole wheat to be listed as the first ingredient and the only grain listed. The kind I get has seven grams of fiber in a two-ounce serving.

I Drink a Glass of White Wine with Dinner Most Nights of the Week

It makes me feel like I'm dining.

When I'm Stuck at an Airport

I order a grilled chicken sandwich with mustard, lettuce, tomato and no mayonnaise at whatever fast-food chain is in the terminal.

My Biggest Food Struggle and How I Handle It

When I come home from work, I'm tired and easily tempted by high-calorie foods. So I don't keep savory snacks like potato chips in my house because I know I'll eat them until they're gone. Instead, I have hummus with carrots and some olives before dinner. The olives feel decadent and they're full of heart-healthy fats.

How I Maintain My Weight During the Holidays

I try to be even more aware of the scale in my head that's always balancing calories against pleasure. I'll happily eat a small portion of a high-calorie food if it's something I love. But if the food is just so-so, then I won't waste the calories.

My Top Smart-Eating Tip

Follow the Volumetrics mantra, which is to have a large salad or a broth-based soup before a meal. Our data shows that doing so controls hunger and helps you eat fewer calories overall.

Yes, I Exercise

I swim at home for 30 minutes every morning. I get my best ideas for work during this time.

7 Food Rules Nutritionists Use

  1. They love to eat. "Enjoy every bite of food that goes into your mouth," says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D. "Food should be pleasurable. When it is, you won't feel the need to compensate by overeating later."
  2. They hate low-fat salad dressing. These diet experts would rather have a small drizzle of the good stuff than a bigger serving of fake dressing.
  3. They drink wine. For most, it's a personal preference — they like the taste of wine better than beer or hard liquor. "I have half a glass of white wine almost every night with dinner," says Ellie Krieger, R.D. "It completes the meal."
  4. They choose fish over red meat. From sushi to snapper, our food pros love the flavor for fewer calories that fish delivers, whether it's grilled, baked or pan seared.
  5. They eat a variety of vegetables. Not because they have to, but because they want to. The key: Experiment with new veggies like kale and squash in the winter, and try saut?ing and roasting them to enhance the flavor.
  6. They're not carb-phobes. Yes, they eat bread and pasta, but they do like to see whole-wheat flour listed as the first ingredient. Look for pastas with six grams of fiber per serving and breads with three grams of fiber per serving, our nutritionists advise.
  7. They exercise most days of the week. "In order to balance what I eat, I exercise for an hour every morning," says Kathy McManus, R.D.

Top 10 Things Our Pros Keep in Their Kitchens

  1. Low-fat yogurt This filling breakfast and snack was on everyone's list.
  2. Low-fat milk To add to high-fiber cereal or oatmeal or to drink.
  3. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar For saut?ing vegetables, cooking lean meat like chicken and fish and drizzling on salads.
  4. Nuts "I love Planter's 170-calorie almond packs because I can have a whole pack without overeating," says Dawn Blatner, R.D.
  5. Fruit for snacking, such as Granny Smith apples, pears and frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
  6. Salad greens Just add dressing and some protein and veggies and you've got lunch.
  7. Baby carrots and hummus The perfect pre-dinner snack, says Ellie Krieger, R.D.
  8. Whole-grain bread Adds fiber to your sandwich or toast.
  9. Tomatoes in a can or jar, such as marinara sauce, salsa or stewed tomatoes, says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D.
  10. Frozen vegetables, like green beans, snow peas and bags of mixed vegetables. "They're cut, clean and ready to cook," says Blatner.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, December 2006.