As a Rise coach by night, I spend most of the day in a cubicle in a big office in downtown Washington, DC. Not only can sitting for 8+ hours wreak havoc on my back and posture, but it also creates more opportunities than I’d like for mindless snacking and a coffee run as a way to get out of the office for a few quick minutes. I fight back with meal planning, packing delicious foods and letting myself give in to a treat sometimes! Here’s what a typical day in the life of a nutritionist looks like for me:
The alarm goes off and I do my best to finish the glass of water I have sitting on my nightstand before a 10-minute walk with my dog. Getting that glass of water in first thing jumpstarts my 8 glasses per day goal!
Breakfast is usually a large slice of toast, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of homemade jam. I’ve been alternating between sourdough and whole wheat flatbreads lately. I shoot for another glass of water with breakfast, but usually only make it through half.
After getting settled at my desk, I sip on 16 oz. of coffee with skim milk to get me through my morning emails & meetings. I try to make the coffee last until 10 am!
Banana time. Fruit is not my favorite (I know, bad dietitian!) but bananas really do the trick as a mid-morning snack for me. I keep an 8 oz. water bottle at my desk and shoot to drink two refills before lunch time. I’m lucky enough to work with folks who love cooking and baking, so if there’s a treat in the office I’ll indulge in a small piece around now and save my fruit for lunch.
12 pm (Sometimes 11:30 a.m. if I’m really hungry.)
I’ve been eating homemade vegetable & orzo soup (recipe below) this week, but also love homemade rice bowls with brown rice, kale, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and tahini dressing. Another glass of water down the hatch!
I try to bring a healthy snack for the afternoon – this week I’ve been switching between a small side salad and cut-up peppers & cucumbers with hummus. I also keep a bag of pretzels at my desk for days when I’m extra hungry or just need something crunchy. I scoop out a handful, close up the bag and put it back in my desk before I start munching though! Another 8 oz refill of water.
I try for an afternoon cup of tea – I keep both herbal and black teas in my desk so if I need that extra caffeine boost it’s readily available. If I go out and get a cup of coffee, I end up with a caramel filled latte that I know will just make me crash in an hour and bring on a headache for the rest of the evening.
After a 30-45 minute walk with my dog, I head into the kitchen to get dinner going, which usually means washing last night’s dishes first (sorry Mom!). Depending on how hungry I am and what time dinner will be ready, I may have 3-4 whole wheat crackers to hold me over. I do my best to go for water first, since I usually need the extra hydration after the walk and sometimes I’m actually just thirsty and not hungry.
My husband and I plan our meals out each Saturday before hitting the farmer’s market and grocery store. It really helps up get in a variety of foods and put a wholesome, healthy and delicious meal on the table most nights during a busy week. On most nights, we choose a protein & a vegetable, and sometimes a carbohydrate. Once a week we cook a pasta dinner that’s a bit more indulgent, like ravioli, baked ziti or macaroni & cheese.
Tonight’s dinner is chicken breast rubbed with olive oil and a homemade mesquite seasoning, then cooked on the stove. I love using a cast iron pan to get a nice crispy outside without frying or breading. On the side we’ll have acorn squash & roasted potatoes.
For the squash – split it in half, scoop out the seeds and add a tsp of butter or olive oil in each half. I roast the squash in a 375 degree oven for almost an hour until it’s soft enough to scoop. I add cinnamon to my half and leave my husbands’ as is. For the potatoes, I cut red potatoes (or regular baking potatoes) into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika then roast in the oven with the squash for 30 minutes, stirring once. I keep a glass of water in the kitchen while cooking and refill when we sit down to eat.
I find that having a hot beverage at night helps me relax and enjoy the last few moments of the night. It also helps me from mindless snacking while watching TV! If we have homemade cookies in the house, we each have one after dinner and try to keep that to two nights per week. Other than gummy worms and frogs, which are my guilty pleasure, we don’t regularly keep packaged sweets in the house because if they are there, we eat them! I try and limit my gummy consumption to one night per week and stick to tea the rest of the nights.
At this point, most of you are probably skeptical – there’s no way I eat like this all the time. That’s true! This is what a typical weekday looks like for me. On the weekends, I eat out with friends and family, and worry less about each meal .I do my best to choose healthy options like getting a salad in place of fries, but don’t stress about the specifics because I know I’ve had a healthy week. For me, it’s about balancing out my burgers and beer on the weekends with vegetable-heavy meals throughout the week!
Vegetable & Orzo Soup:
- low-sodium diced tomatoes
- orzo (or other small pasta
Saute 2 diced carrots, 2 diced stalks of celery and ½ a diced onion in some olive oil in a medium stockpot for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add one clove of minced garlic, some dried or fresh parsley & thyme and stir for 30 seconds. Add in one can of low sodium diced tomatoes and two cans worth of water and stir well. Turn the heat up to high and add 2 cups of diced zucchini or summer squash. Add some salt and pepper to taste. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, bump the heat back up to medium and add in 1 cup of orzo or other small pasta. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmering for another 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is just al dente. Remove from heat and adjust the seasoning to taste. Let it cool and divide up into lunch containers so it’s ready to go for the week.
Erica Walther, RD is a Virginia-based, self-proclaimed food enthusiast and avid baker. With a background in nutrition education, she believes in eating at least one fresh item every day. She also believes in eating vegetables AND chocolate cookies – everything in moderation. Let her help you with your journey to leading a balanced lifestyle. Learn more about Erica and how to work with her here