I once made the error of declaring I was a newly qualified dietitian at the supermarket checkout. For the next twenty minutes everything in my trolley was carefully scrutinised by my fellow shoppers who crowded around to question my choices. Dietitians are often seen as nutrition purists who rarely deviate from their greens and wholegrains. This week I give you a more realistic idea of what a dietitian eats in a day.
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I start with a large, glass of water and then a high fibre cereal such as steel cut oats or muesli heaped with a variety of seasonal fruits. I top it with a low-fat locally owned milk like Famers Own or Barambah and Greek yoghurt. If I’m in a hurry I grab some wholegrain toast with a thin spread of vegemite, a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt and a piece of fruit.
A mid-morning coffee made with soy milk is a welcome break for me after a hectic morning. Usually, I exercise early in the day so by this time I need a snack such as a banana, apple, a handful of nuts or some yoghurt. Sometimes, I treat myself to some fruit toast or a fruit bun depending on the day. If it’s the weekend I often have a late brunch of poached eggs, salmon and avocado on rye.
Lunch for me is usually a wholegrain sandwich with greens and tuna. I have to confess that I don’t love salads as a stand-alone lunch – particularly in winter! I’ll have veggie soup and if I’m ordering out, I’ll always have a side salad with my meal mixed with as many veggies as possible and a light dressing. I try to drink water with every meal as I often forget when I’m at my desk.
An afternoon snack at around 3PM keeps me going until dinner. I’ll choose a piece of fruit or cheese. If I’m extra hungry I’ll have a couple of whole grain rice cakes with a spread of avocado or cream cheese. I may have an extra coffee at this time if I’m feeling fatigued which is usually a weak, short black and perhaps a homemade biscuit.
Dinner is my challenge as I’m usually tired and find it easy to overeat. I pour myself a sparkling water with a dash of cranberry juice to sip on as I cook so I don’t reach for too many snacks or wine. I usually eat wholegrain pasta or a stir-fry packed with different coloured veggies and lean meat such as veal, pork or chicken or legumes. I eat fish regularly served with a big side salad and homemade sweet potato chips.
If I’m craving something sweet after dinner, I’ll have a small serve of Greek yoghurt with fruit and nuts or a couple of pieces of dark chocolate. Lindt is my favourite. On a Friday night I always have a glass of wine or champagne to celebrate the end of the week. On Saturday if I’m at home I’ll have one or two glasses of red wine. If I’m out, I’ll have something similar although quite often I’m known to exceed this quota!
If I’m eating out then I’ll always choose delicious options that I wouldn’t usually serve myself at home such as oysters, scallops, duck or venison. I don’t hold back as life is short and I love trying new food. You’ll always almost see me with a side of fries as they’re one of my favourite indulgences but I balance it with a side salad. I also drink sparkling water to aid digestion and slow my alcohol intake.
A perfect diet is impossible. I can use my knowledge and experience as a dietitian to eat well but like all of you out there I have food preferences based on my culture and upbringing. I have foods that are linked to my childhood that provide comfort and those that I find so scrumptious that I would never remove the joy of devouring them. What a dietitian eats is mostly a healthy, balanced diet with a few flaws mixed in.