Eating healthy is simple in theory: Load up on vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and healthy fats. In practice, most individuals find ice cream, cheese, and juicy hamburgers to be delicious. So how do people who know the most about food find a balance between what their body craves and what it needs? What does a registered dietitian really eat?
Cindy Easley, RD, CDE
Philosophy: Any food can be part of a healthy plan—it’s a matter of portion control and choosing high-fiber foods and nutritious vegetables more often than processed and refined foods. Use healthy fats and lean proteins, take some time to cook, and you’ll be well on your way.
Breakfast: I always choose a protein or healthy fat in the morning so that I won’t be hungry within a couple hours and go looking for something I shouldn’t eat. I frequently eat a small piece of fruit and a whole-wheat English muffin with either an egg, 1 ounce of cheese, or a tablespoon of natural peanut butter. Sometimes breakfast is a cup of Greek yogurt with 3/4 cup blueberries and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds if I’m in a hurry. I also enjoy a cup of coffee with almond milk in the morning.
Mid-morning snack: It’s best to avoid going longer than five hours without a meal or snack. I eat breakfast early, so I like to have a small bunch of grapes, a small apple, or half a Kind bar to tide me over until lunch.
Lunch: I usually eat leftovers from the night before, which helps me avoid processed lunch items. I try to add vegetables whenever possible, which keeps me from eating too many higher calorie items such as rice, potatoes, and bread.
I might eat two small corn or whole-wheat tortillas with 1/2 cup of black beans; 2 to 3 ounces of lean hamburger cooked with onion, cabbage, and tomato; and a sprinkle of cheese and salsa. Two cups of a stir-fry made with chicken and lots of vegetables, plus 1 cup of brown rice, is also satisfying. I’ll also eat pasta (no more than 1 1/2 cups of cooked, whole-grain noodles) with a little lean hamburger, tomato sauce, broccoli, onion, and spinach. Pairing lunch with regular or sparkling water keeps me hydrated without adding calories.
Afternoon snack: Fruit, a small handful of nuts, or an occasional cookie are my afternoon snack.
Dinner: I cook a wide variety of foods for dinner. A cup and a half of pumpkin chili made with roasted pumpkin, a variety of beans, onion, garlic, and veggies is tasty—especially accompanied by a small piece of homemade cornbread. Another example is 2 to 3 ounces of roasted chicken or baked fish accompanied by a large salad or roasted veggies, and 1 cup brown rice or a small- to medium-size potato or sweet potato.
Dessert: I’ll occasionally have 1/2 cup of ice cream, a small handful of peanut M&Ms, or some fruit for dessert.
Cindy Easley is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist at Vancouver Clinic. She helps patients gain the tools and understanding they need to make important dietary changes. Learn more about the clinic’s program.