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A Dietitian's Daily Priority

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Woman chopping vegetables

Don’t Skip Out
I know that skipping meals automatically sets me up for nutrition disaster. I tend to get overly hungry and then overeat at the next meal and not be as careful about the nutrition choices I make. My goal is to space breakfast and lunch four to five hours apart, have a small snack in the afternoon and then have dinner. In order to make this work, planning is essential. At the beginning of the week I take fruit, vegetables, a source of protein, like chicken or tuna, and a whole grain such as Dave’s Powerseed Bread (5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 20 whole grains, not too shabby) to work.

I also have healthy snacks ready to go including Light Babybel cheese and whole grain Wheat Thins. There is an old saying, “Don’t munch, eat lunch.” This is another trap anyone can fall into if you don’t adequately plan ahead. You can nibble all afternoon on crackers, nuts, Hershey Kisses and cheese but you don’t put a meal together. We are all guilty of this. You end up consuming 700 or more calories by doing this because you don’t feel like you’ve had a complete meal. My goals are planning ahead and consistent eating.
Patty Kirk, RDN, LD


Pre-Planning Meals
I devote two and a half hours each week to pre-planning meals and prepping for my workday. I usually complete the prep mid-week while cooking dinner for my family because there is always something to do on a weekend rather than pre-plan!

One shelf in my refrigerator is dedicated to food that is consumed at work for both my husband and me. It’s always well stocked and pre-portioned in grab-and-go combinations so that neither of us is left without good choices. We keep two coolers in the trunks of our cars to carry cold proteins with us everywhere, such as low-fat dairy and hardboiled eggs. Our waistlines and our wallets have thanked us for pre-planning!
Katherine Tom, MS, RDN, LD, CDE


Protein Utilization 
One area of focus for my personal nutrition plan is not just meeting my daily protein needs, but spreading my protein intake evenly throughout the day. This is important for optimal protein utilization. Including protein in all my meals and snacks keeps me feeling satisfied longer so I’m less likely to start thoughtlessly raiding the pantry.

I try to consume 20-25 grams of protein at meals and 10 grams in an afternoon snack. My breakfast proteins include Uncle Sam’s cereal with 1 cup of 1% milk (totaling 17 grams of protein), or cottage cheese with ¼ cup of nuts (for a total of 20 grams). At both lunch and dinner, I aim to include 3-4 ounces of cooked lean meat (chicken, turkey, fish, pork tenderloin and occasionally beef). This comes out to 21-28 grams of protein. For a snack, my usual go-tos are Greek yogurt or an RX Bar.
Cynthanne Duryea, RDN, LD


Build Muscle Mass
I make health a priority by having my yoga workout clothes packed and in my car. Yoga provides balance in more ways than one. I participate in yoga classes four times a week in a warm studio, which reminds me to hydrate well. After the age of thirty, our muscle mass declines approximately thirty percent each decade.

Since I am well into my sixth decade of life, I prioritize strength training. If we are not busy building muscle mass, then we are busy losing muscle mass. Before I leave my bedroom, I do twenty push-ups every morning when I wake up. This helps me set the stage for a focused, health-conscious day. 
Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, LD


Consistent Calcium
One area that I prioritize daily is getting enough calcium from food. I am concerned with maintaining good bone density and find that being intentional with planning several servings of calcium each day works very well for me. My go-to sources of calcium are calcium-fortified almond milk, Fairlife fat free milk, low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt, light string cheese or low fat cheese on salads. I enjoy the milk in my coffee, with cereal or overnight oatmeal. Yogurt and cheese are easy portable snacks that I throw in my lunch bag.

Other calcium rich-foods that show up on my plate are edamame, oranges, chia seeds and almonds. Getting enough calcium is easy when it becomes a habit! Since vitamin D helps with calcium absorption and is very difficult to get enough from food, I also take a vitamin D supplement every day. 
Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDCES, CHWC


Fiber-Protein Balance
My main focus is getting optimal and adequate amounts of fiber and protein. I am a big advocate for plenty of COLOR at every meal! This means a meal is not complete without color, such as fruit or veggies. Getting protein from a variety of sources is important to me, so I include protein from whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy and beans.

My goal is to get at least 20-30 grams of protein and 8-10 grams of fiber at meals and 15-20 grams protein at snack time. I meal prep in order to reach my protein and fiber goals. I cook larger quantities of roasted broccoli and chicken, and pair them with a healthy carb such as potatoes, whole grain bread or fruit. My favorite snack or breakfast go-to is colorful fruit with Greek yogurt.
Lizzy McCrary, RDN, LD