10 Healthy Habits to Steal From Nutritionists
Our resident expert shares easy tips she and her fellow nutritionists swear by to maintain a healthy diet.
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Smart Strategies For Better Health
Nutritionists teach folks on how to eat healthy, and of course, they practice what they preach. But everyone has their own individual way to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle. So I asked my fellow registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) to share their secrets to success.
Frontload Your Calories
"There is truth to the old adage to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper, when it comes to managing your weight. Emerging research is suggesting that consuming the major of your calories later in the day may not be kind to your waist and increase the storage of fat in your body. Rise and dine to a healthy breakfast and tailor your calorie intake during the day so that you are eating less at night."
-Dr. Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, LDN, FAND author of Nutrition & You
Cook at Home
"I eat 99-percent of my meals at home. That way, I know exactly what I’m eating, and eating 'my food' ensures that I’ll feel good afterwards. I can also build a much more nutritious plate at my house than I could if I was eating out somewhere. And it saves money, which of course I love."
-Sara Haas RDN, LDN, consultant culinary dietitian based in Chicago, Illinois
"This means making sure vegetables of all sorts — especially leafy green and cruciferous varieties — are the center of my plate. This translates to eating leftovers over a bed of greens, bumping up veggies in any recipe (like pizza, pasta, and burritos), or starting a meal with soup or salad to ensures I consume plenty of phytonutrients and fiber every day."
-Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, Plant-Based Dietitian and author of Plant-Based Nutrition (Idiot's Guide) and The Vegiterranean Diet
Stretch Before Bed
"The healthiest habit I do every single evening is to stretch by incorporating movements from yoga, Pilates and general basic stretching. I’ll either watch some TV or listen to music while performing moves targeting my hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, chest, back, and arms. This habit has allowed me to maintain great flexibility, strength, balance, and incredible stress relief. I can’t imagine going a day without it."
-Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD of Eat Well to Be Well RD
Add More Nutrition to Each Meal
"I make small nutrient-rich additions to meals at every opportunity. For example, I stir ground flaxseeds into my oatmeal for the added omega-3 fats, add baby spinach leaves and tomato slices to a quick packed sandwich at lunch, dip whole grain crackers in heart-healthy guacamole at a snack, and add mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and carrot to my ground beef for spaghetti sauce at dinner. By making these small additions all throughout the day, you can improve the nutritional value of your diet without having to make a total overhaul of the foods you typically enjoy."
-Culinary and wellness dietitian Jessica Ivey, RDN
Mix Things Up
"It’s easy to get stuck in a healthy eating and exercise rut, so I make sure to mix things up. I’m always trying new recipes and finding fun ways to be active. Whether it’s a long stroll through the farmers’ market or a beach picnic there are plenty of exciting ways to get the entire family involved in good food and fitness."
Eat Prunes (Yes, Prunes!) Every Day
"As we get older, we need to think more and more about our bone health. About a third of women and 20 percent of men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. We can act now to strengthen our bone health and keep our bones healthy! One of my favorite ways to do so: I eat five to six prunes most days. Research in Osteoporosis International shows that having a daily prune habit may help prevent bone loss. I like to snack on the prunes, and I also add diced ones to salads."
-Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area
Start the Day with Water
"One of the best things I do every day is drink two big glasses of water as soon as I wake up. I always feel a little dehydrated when I get up and I know I’m going to drink coffee, so the water helps me kick start my hydration first thing in the morning."
-Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RDN, LDN of Salubrious RD and author of the Balance: Simple Recipes for the Cook Who Loves All Food
Make Time to Meal Plan
"Meal planning saves you time and money, reduces food waste, and helps you eat a more balanced and varied diet. I set aside 30 minutes to an hour every weekend to put together my menu plan for the week, including breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinners. I base my menu on what's already in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, what's on sale at my local supermarkets, what produce is in season, and any favorites my kids may ask for. I make a grocery list to go along with the plan, which saves me time at the supermarket as well."
-Culinary nutrition expert Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN
An Evening Routine Leads to Saner Weekday Mornings
"As I am cleaning up dinner I go ahead and pack my lunch, prepare my coffee and lay out my kid’s clothes. This allows me time in the morning to eat my breakfast with my family and not feel rushed. Having good routines creates a healthier lifestyle."
-Stacy Cluxton Michael, RD of Cluxton Consulting