8 Nutritionists Share Their Food Diaries

Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
While we're firm believers that the key to a healthy and happy diet is to enjoy everything in moderation (yes, we still want that slice of birthday cake), we're well aware that lean protein and veggies trump cheeseburgers and fries in the long run. But, because consuming a well-balanced diet is easier said than done, we took a peek into the food diaries of five nutritionists for some newfound nosh inspiration, and what you read may surprise you.
Forget about celery sticks and water. These nutrition nuts are chowing down on everything from quinoa quiche with turkey sausage and cheddar cheese to pizza — yes, pizza. So, how do they do it while still slipping into their skinny jeans? The answer lies ahead. Remember, your health is your wealth — and this advice is free, dear reader.
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Quick Tip: "I don't have any off-limits foods, but I have off-limits situations. For example, I aim to avoid eating sweets alone at home or sweets that are free (think samples at the store or cookies from the work kitchen). Instead, my goal is to eat sweets in the joyful company of others only."

Breakfast: Savory oatmeal with spinach and coffee. "Starting the day with greens is like having a punch of vitamins. I never skip my black coffee — it's is a source of healthy antioxidants and morning pleasure!"

Lunch: A burrito bowl with quinoa, black beans, romaine, shredded carrots, salsa, and guacamole. "It's a quick vegetarian way to get whole grains, plant protein, veggies, and healthy fat in the middle of the day."

Dinner: Pizza and kale salad. "My mind craves pizza (I am from Chicago, after all), and my body craves kale. It's the perfect mind/body balance on a plate."

Snack: Apple and pistachios; grape tomatoes and string cheese; broccoli and cashew ranch. "I believe in the magic of a produce and protein combo for snacks. The fiber and water in produce for fullness combined with protein for staying power."

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Edye Wagner, RD, LDN, CDE, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare

Quick Tip: "Eating healthy involves eating when you are hungry and not starving yourself. I believe in meals versus grazing throughout the day to make eating mindful."

Breakfast: Egg whites scrambled in nonstick spray, berries, and one slice of whole wheat bread. "Adding a lean protein such as egg whites to breakfast helps to give you the staying power to make it to lunch. Protein stabilizes blood sugars, the berries add antioxidants and fiber, and the whole grain bread adds fiber and helps with satiety between meals."

Lunch: Salad with sliced chicken and a splash of dressing (or olive oil and balsamic) and a piece of fresh fruit. Or, a grilled chicken sandwich with roasted veggies. "My typical lunch meal includes lean protein such as chicken, as well as veggies for a crunch. The whole grain bread adds carbohydrates for energy, and fresh fruit is a nice way to end the meal with a sweet taste."

Dinner: Grilled salmon, roasted sweet potato fries, roasted vegetables, and a tossed or chopped salad. "Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and is high in protein. The sweet potato fries add carbohydrates and antioxidants."
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Elizabeth Prebish, registered dietitian at OrganicLife

Quick Tip: "When you eat processed sugars found in bakery items, candy bars, chips, etc., be sure to include a healthy protein or healthy fat with them."

Breakfast: A green smoothie containing frozen berries, a medium banana, one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, a handful of kale, and approximately a cup and a half of water. Follow up with a protein source such as two hard boiled eggs. "When you are asleep, your body focuses its energy to heal itself. Therefore, you want to be sure you start the day with something that is lighter and easy to digest."

Lunch: A serving of organic chicken with a salad and potatoes. "The chicken provides protein to increase your energy level and make you more alert. Always incorporate a green. Not only do they help the health of the individual cells in your body, but enzymes help break down the other foods you eat, thus making it easier on your digestive system. As far as a starch, I recommend staying away from breads since they are more processed and therefore harder to digest. Instead, I find potatoes give the same satisfaction in a more natural form."

Dinner: Mexican food like fish tacos. "This is a great dinner choice because it is tasty and incorporates many vegetables into the meal, including lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, beans, and avocado. Just be careful that you aren’t having a meal made up of primarily corn chips."
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Jennifer Vimbor, MS, RD, LDN of Downsize Fitness

Quick Tip: "Eating well doesn't have to be boring or a chore. I like to prepare a few dishes on the weekend, so I don't get stuck during the week on those days I work late. This saves a lot of stress, energy, and unnecessary grief later on."

Breakfast: Two slices of whole wheat toast (or an English muffin) with five slices of tofu protein (usually Tofurkey slices), and one cup of mixed berries. "My meals always start with a lean protein source and complex carb. Then I add a bunch of vegetables and/or some fruit."

Lunch: Four ounces of seasoned tempeh, tofu, seitan, or beans (such as chickpeas), with a grain (whole wheat couscous or quinoa), and a pile of veggies.

Dinner: Very similar to lunch.

Snack: A homemade white bean dip with celery and carrot sticks for dipping.
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Jessica Marie, certified health coach and healthy living expert

Quick Tip: "Make a conscious effort to slow down when it comes to enjoying a meal. When we eat meals quickly, we’re not allowing the 'full signal' from our tummy to reach our brain. This leads to overeating, feeling overly full, and then guilt sets in. Eat with chop sticks or place utensils down in between bites."

Breakfast: A warm cup of water and lemon followed by her “go-to” green juice and chia breakfast pudding. "The juice ensures I get a gang of zippy enzymes into my body ready to take charge and heal. The pudding is easy, light, and fuels me with sustainable energy. Besides, I can make enough of it to last me the week and change things up with different toppings."

Lunch: A soul bowl, a warmer, sexier version of a salad using whole grains, legumes, steamed greens, and veggies. "Loaded with fiber and complex carbohydrates, this bowl is sure to keep you coasting on sustainable energy."

Dinner: Guilt-free lasagna. "Warmth and comfort can come in many forms, so to ward off less healthful options, I make this recipe! It’s loaded with tons of fiber, is gluten-free (no noodles), tastes great, and is super-satisfying."
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Exhale's director of nutrition, Melissa O'Shea MS, RD

Quick Tip: "You have to make eating healthy fun and interesting. I subscribe to several healthy cooking magazines that inspire me in the kitchen and get my creative juices flowing by offering up recipe ideas and tips. Trying at least one new recipe each week keeps your taste buds intrigued."

Breakfast: A smoothie with Sun Warrior protein powder, fresh or frozen fruit, a leafy green, chia seeds, and almond milk. "It’s a balanced breakfast, offering up carbs, protein, and a healthy fat. The protein helps to keep me full until lunch and it’s an easy breakfast to take with me when I have to be out the door early for morning clients. And, you can’t beat a breakfast that includes a serving of both fruit and veggies!"

Lunch: A big salad filled with lots of veggies and topped with protein (this is key). "I usually make my own with whatever I have in the refrigerator: beets, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, roasted broccoli or cauliflower, a hard-boiled egg, and some grilled chicken or salmon. Also, I always make my own salad dressing since it’s simple to make and most bottled dressings contain a lot of unnecessary additives."

Dinner: A big quinoa salad, a pot of soup, and some roasted or grilled chicken and vegetables. "I try and keep it interesting at dinner and mix it up. Since both my fiancé and I typically work late, I’ll try and do a lot of food prep on Sundays. I take advantage of the nights I’m home early and cook enough so we can get two meals out of it. Leftovers are my savior on nights we walk in the door late, hungry, and tired."

Snack: An apple with some almond butter, plain Greek yogurt with fruit, or hummus with veggies or a brown rice cake. "You want this snack to hold you until dinner so you don’t walk in the door famished, so protein sources will all do the trick. Steer clear of carbohydrate-only snacks, which will give you a quick burst of energy, but eventually leave you hungry and craving more soon after."
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Nick Wernimont of Factor 75

Quick Tip: "In order to be a powerful, fit, healthy individual in both mind and body, you should focus less on the quantity of calories you eat and more on the quality of those calories. You do not need to starve yourself from the things you love. Rather, you just need to upgrade the ingredients in those meals."

Breakfast: Quinoa Quiche with cage-free eggs, a quinoa crust, turkey sausage, and cheddar cheese; served with sweet potato hash. "This dish replaces the typically bad ingredients found in quiche that are healthier, but still yummy. The omega 3-rich eggs add the protein necessary to kick-start your metabolism after a night of rest. Add a side of low glycemic carbs like sweet potatoes (which helps control blood sugar levels) and I have all the fuel I need to optimize my performance and conquer the day ahead."

Lunch: Kale and grapefruit salad with toasted pecans, flax seeds, and queso fresco, served with a raspberry vinaigrette and salmon. "This dish has the perfect balance of micronutrients (kale) and macronutrients like salmon. Add in the pecans and flax seeds — which are chock-full of healthy fats — and not only does this meal help me maintain higher levels of physical energy, but it also helps me retain a higher mental acuity as I head into the second half of my day."

Dinner: Winter Squash mac-and-cheese with lean ham, spiced winter squash, and toasted pumpkin seeds. This is a perfect example of my philosophy: Eat healthier versions of comfort that still maintain a delicious taste."
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Renee Clerkin, registered dietitian/nutritionist

Quick Tip: "Have a plan that works with your lifestyle. For instance, if you go out several times a week with your friends, then plan accordingly rather than trying to avoid the situation altogether. You will feel much more in control and on track to your goals if you plan ahead."

Breakfast: Cooked oats made on the stove with water, organic sunflower seed butter, freshly grated ginger, ground cinnamon, berries, and chia or flax seeds. "Oats provide fiber, protein, and slow burning carbohydrates that keep me energized. Sunflower seed butter and chia/flax seeds provide healthy fats, fiber, and protein so I stay satisfied throughout the morning."

Lunch: A grain or leafy green-based salad. Leafy greens are nutrient-rich and filling since they are loaded with fiber. I like to eat a large quantity of food so I always include three-to-five cups of leafy greens at lunch to bulk up my meals. I always include a protein (such as beans or a veggie burger) to help keep me satisfied long after my meal. Protein at meals also supports muscle maintenance, so in turn, my workouts will be more effective. I always include a homemade dressing and/or nuts/seeds to my salad for healthy fat sources, which add flavor and enable me to absorb all the fat-soluble nutrients present in my meal."

Dinner: Baked fish with roasted red or sweet potatoes. "I try to have seafood two times per week due to its high content of omega-3."
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