Dietitians are good at making the rules, but how well do they follow them? It’s easy to think of dietitians as nutritional superheroes with weeks of meals planned and a healthy snack in every desk drawer. But a sneak peek into the pages of one registered dietitian food journal revealed that—much to our relief—they’re a whole lot more like us than we think. They have hectic schedules, get super hungry, fight off cravings, and even give into them every once in awhile. And despite their healthy eating know-how and generally fit lifestyles, they often keep food journals as tools to help them stay on track.
Although a food journal is synonymous with trying to manage how much you eat, its function goes further than weight loss. Healthy eaters use journals to make sure their meals are not only nutritious, but also well rounded. “Looking back on your eating for the day can also help you start planning for a more health-conscious tomorrow,” says Erin Palinski, RD, the courageous dietician who let us follow her every bite. “When I went back to my food journal for this particular day I realized that fruit was completely missing so I made sure I got in at least 2 servings the next day.” Palinski also rated her level of hunger before each meal and snack to track whether her eating was a result of idle hands or an empty stomach. Here’s how she braved a busy day and still managed to eat (mostly) healthfully.
7:30 a.m. Breakfast omelet made with 1/2 cup of Egg Beaters, cooked onions, and 1 slice of low sodium ham.
Hunger Level Only a little hungry. “I’m just slightly hungry right now but I definitely have to eat before work or I’ll be starving way before I break for lunch,” says Palinski.
Palinski’s schedule is constantly changing based on her client appointments. This morning, she’s booked solid from 8 a.m. until noon, leaving little time for a late morning snack. “When I’m with people back-to-back I always try to make a little bit of a bigger breakfast. It’s important to think longer term so you wont get too hungry.”
Eat the perfect breakfast for any goal!
12:30 p.m. Whole grain flat bread wrap made with 3 ounces of grilled chicken, 1/4 cup of low-fat cheese (melted), and 1/4 cup of salsa. Salsa is a healthier choice than mayo for wraps or sandwiches and adds a nice little kick of flavor, says Palinski. If you know it’s going to be a busy day and you'll likely have to go for a long period of time without eating, have something with fiber and protein, which is more filling.
Drank two 8-ounce glasses of water with my wrap.
Hunger Level Rumble-in-the-tummy hungry. “I couldn’t do it perfectly today—I was too busy for a morning snack—but I try to eat every few hours. When you get too hungry and hit that point when you’re ravenous, you eat way too much and way too fast,” says Palinski.
3:30 p.m. Ate 6 ounces of vanilla Light & Fit yogurt with 1/4 cup of Fiber One cereal mixed in. Drank about 24 ounces of water during a workout session and about 8 ounces of flavored seltzer water with snack.
Hunger Level Rumble-in-the-tummy hungry. “I worked out from 2 to 3 p.m. by running 5 miles on the treadmill, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t starving before dinner was ready,” says Palinski.
Tip Notice something about what Palinski sips? “I always have a water bottle with me all day long, and I drink a ton from it,” she says. “It’s second nature now, but I do find that if I don’t have water with me throughout the day I tend to feel much more tired.”
7:30 p.m. Had 5 ounces of grilled chicken and 1/4 cup fat-free turkey gravy with 1/4 cup of onions and mushrooms mixed in, and 1 cup of steamed broccoli. Drank two 8-ounce glasses of water.
BING: Easy dinner recipes
Hunger Level Somewhere between ravenous and tummy-rumbling hungry. With a busy day behind her, Palinski wanted to throw together something that was quick and easy. “I don’t really write my meals out ahead of time,” says Palinski, “On busy days when I haven't gone to the store, I do a mental tally of what foods I have in the house and decide what healthy meals and snacks I can throw together. But if I feel like I’ve been off track with my eating or not getting in every food group I will plan out a few days’ worth of menus to refocus.”