6 Things This Dietitian Would Never Do
By Alex Raymond, RD, LD
I was inspired by the TONS of blogs I see out there about “5 Foods a Nutritionist Never Eats,” or “10 Bad Foods a Dietitian Will Refuse to Eat…” etc. I feel like “never” is such a harsh word and really doesn’t go along with the whole REBEL mentality. Some of the foods I see on the list to “never” eat include:
- Sugary cereals
- Potato chips
- Microwave popcorn
- Skim milk
- French fries
- Artificial sweeteners
- The list goes on…
I for one eat all of the above. I have a new obsession with gourmet donuts, and frosting actually happens to be one of my favorite foods… Pretty much any food on a “Do Not Eat” list I have probably eaten in the last 60 or so days. If these foods are “forbidden,” why, you may ask, is this Registered Dietitian eating them? Well, I like to be a role model for other people in developing a healthy relationship with food, so I choose to cut nothing out of my diet (except for ketchup and beets, but that’s just a personal preference. I don’t like how they taste).
Now, that’s not to say that I have bagels for breakfast, donuts for lunch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch with a side of frosting for dinner… I eat these foods in moderation. Moderation can mean a little something different for everyone, but for me, it usually means having these “fun foods” at least 5-6 times a week.
You may be wondering then, What Are the 6 Things that this Dietitian Never Does?
1. Skips cake on her birthday
Desserts are ALWAYS foods that you are told to avoid or just blatantly not eat when you are trying to lose weight and eat healthily. However, studies have shown that when you tell yourself not to eat a food, you wind up thinking about that food even more. When you cut that food out of your diet completely and tell yourself not to have it, you wind up craving it. Chances are, you may wind up overeating it at some point. This is why I make it a point to incorporate fun foods into my diet and encourage clients to do the same.
I’m not having dessert after every meal, but I probably have some sort of sweet every day. This is what moderation means for me. Everyone has a different way to moderate fun foods and your dietitian can help you figure that out. Maybe for you, it’s having 2 fun foods a day, or maybe 4 times a week. It’s important to find a way to healthily incorporate these foods into your diet so you’re able to enjoy them without feeling guilty and not feeling deprived.
2. Forgets to eat vegetables
I am a big proponent of coloring your plate! Personally, I have at least 1 veggie every day and that is at the bare minimum. I actually make it a point to have a salad every day–whether it’s a side salad or a main meal. Why is this important? Well, different colors of vegetable (and fruit) actually have different kinds of vitamins and minerals in them, which is really cool! So if you’re not eating veggies or fruit, or you’re only eating 1 color of produce, then you’re not getting the variety of vitamins and minerals.
These nutrients actually play a key role in metabolic processes in our bodies, building/repairing cells, and sustaining the immune system…etc. When I cook for myself and others I always make sure the recipe has a veggie, and if it doesn’t, I add one in. Below are some examples of how you might be able to add some color:
- Add tricolor peppers to chili
- Add pureed eggplant and/or zucchini to pasta sauce
- Use a spiralizer to make zucchini or sweet potato noodles and add those to pasta
- Use shredded cabbage and add that to salads (you can buy coleslaw mix at the grocery store)
- Add spinach, tomato, cucumbers, shredded carrots…etc. to sandwiches
- Stock up on frozen veggies and steam those up for a quick side
- Add these frozen veggies to soups and stews
3. Skimps Out on Food Groups
Going along with Number 2, I always make sure that my day to day diet includes all the food groups! Grains, dairy, fruit, vegetables, protein and I’ll throw in healthy fats all have important macronutrients, vitamins and minerals that are important for our bodies. Without protein your body won’t be able to repair muscles. Whole grains and fiber help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Your body needs fat to store certain “fat soluble” vitamins–Vitamin A, D, E and K.
For many people, grains and fat are the first food groups they may cut out when “on a diet” or trying to lose weight. But, I believe this can backfire. Grains have carbohydrates which are actually your body’s first choice of fuel. Sure, you could get carbs from fruits and certain veggies, but it’s really hard to get enough of these without eating grains. Cutting out grains, especially whole grains, can lead to cravings and ultimately over eating. Even though fat is more calorically dense than protein and carbs, it’s still so important to include them. Remember: Fat in foods does not automatically turn to fat on your body. Like I wrote earlier, fat is used to absorb and store certain vitamins. Additionally, fat is important for cell repair, hormone production and insulating the organs.
4. Say Yes to the “Food Police”
This one is really tough and something I continue to work on every day. How many of you have found yourself in one of the below situations?
You are at a dinner with your family. Your mom or grandma has cooked such delicious food, just for you. If you don’t eat it, you are going to seem so rude and ungrateful. I mean, come on, your mom cooked the sweet potato pie, JUST FOR YOU! So, even though you are so full from the already five course meal and your body and mind are screaming NO, you must have a slice of the sweet potato pie, immediately feeling guilty and regretting it.
You are at an office party with your co-workers who all seem to be dieting at the moment. You are actually quite excited because someone baked red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and those are your absolute favorite. Even though you are getting kinda full from the other finger foods, you decide you are going to allow yourself to have a cupcake, so you pick it up and put it on your plate. BUT THEN, you realize you are getting weird looks from dieting coworkers. They make a comment about how cupcakes are so unhealthy and make you gain weight. You put the cupcake down, feeling guilty and regretting it.
The food police are impossible to avoid. But, there are definitely ways to navigate these situations. Here are some suggestions.
This one actually happens to me quite often with my Italian family.
- Prepare yourself–chances are Grandma is going to make something that is, in her eyes, your favorite dish. Prepare yourself to make room for it or take a small portion and tell Grandma you would like to take some home for leftovers
- Politely decline and say that you are full. It’s okay to make a joke about it. For example, you didn’t bring extra buttons for your pants. Then ask if you can take the foods as leftovers.
- Take breaks during the meal. It’s okay to put your fork down in between bites to check in with yourself. If you’re starting to feel full, give yourself permission to not finish the meal. If you’re still hungry, give yourself permission to have some more bites
- Positive self talk is key. Tell yourself that dessert is a normal part of a healthy diet. It is okay to allow yourself to have it
- Remember, you do not owe anyone an explanation. If you would like to eat a cupcake (or other fun food), that is your business! Enjoy it 🙂
5. Lack Self Care
This one is definitely tricky! Most of us have SO many different things to balance. Sometimes we are too busy we don’t have time to take time to ourselves. Even just 5 minutes a day of relaxation can make a huge difference. It can be helpful to have a list of activities on hand.
6. Says “NO” to pizza
Well, this one is self-explanatory 😉
Overall, I feel like “never” and “always” are such harsh words. What I spoke about above are techniques I do use on a regular basis, however, I will say there are some days when I might not be able to keep these concepts in mind. Maybe I am going away on a trip or maybe I am sick or maybe I just don’t feel like having those darn vegetables. And that’s okay! Just keep in mind, eating is not perfect, not even for a dietitian.
Those people who do seem to have “perfect” diets probably aren’t living their lives to the fullest and most likely do not have a healthy relationship with food. Moderation is part of that healthy relationship! I encourage you to talk to your dietitian about the above 6 “rules” How can you incorporate them into your own life so you feel happy, healthy and learn how to make food simple again.
What are some of the things you do to help keep you healthy and happy? Let us know in the comments below! If you would like to make an appointment with Alex or any of our nutrition professionals, click here or call 301-474-2499.
Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients. Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.
Great article. This is so helpful. Dana Magee has taught me all of these things and my life has been so much better! Thanks for the article.