Wondering what a dietitian eats in a day? Guided by the practice of mindful eating, Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, shares her standard nutritionist food diary.
My healthy eating philosophy can be summed up in three words: easy, balanced, and flexible.
Why I Practice Mindful Eating
Over the years, I’ve actively worked to disconnect myself from mainstream diet culture that promotes strict eating rules. A big part of my disconnecting process was getting in tune with my hunger and fullness cues, my taste and food preferences, and my behavior around food choices.
Now, I use my eating philosophy to drive all of my food choices—and I feel great! I’m able to continue reaching new milestones in my health and fitness goals, without having to ever fear foods I love or feel that I’m restricting myself.
Many people refer to this dietary approach as mindful eating. The amazing thing about eating mindfully is that regardless of your food restrictions, diet preferences, or goals, the same principles can always apply.
What a Dietitian Eats in a Day
To see my version of easy, balanced, and flexible meals, keep reading!
Before eating breakfast, I make a point to drink at least half of my 32-ounce water bottle.
Despite popular myths, there’s no concrete benefit to drinking water first thing in the morning. I simply enjoy doing it because when my mornings get busy (which are most mornings), I often forget to drink enough water. So by drinking first thing, I kickstart my water intake for the day.
This is also when I take my daily pre- and probiotics.
As a self-proclaimed breakfast enthusiast, I eagerly look forward to my first meal of the day. Not only does it satisfy my morning hunger, but it tends to set the tone for the food decisions I’ll make later in the day.
For instance, if my breakfast is lacking in complex carbs, protein, and fiber, I know that I’ll have a spike in cravings later on. This doesn’t mean that I’ll make a full breakfast spread (I save that for the weekends), but I do make sure that my breakfast is balanced.
With that in mind, my go-to breakfast meal is a good ol’ breakfast burrito. To build my burrito, I reach for a high-fiber (five to 15 grams) tortilla to ensure that I’m getting long-burning energy to fuel the rest of my day. I add protein by scrambling two eggs and air frying two or three strips of turkey bacon. Finally, I complete my burrito by adding a slice of avocado and homemade salsa.
When I’m not in a tortilla mood, I simply pair the eggs, turkey bacon, and avocado with a side of sweet potatoes or a slice of sourdough to complete my meal.
Oh, and I never forget my tall glass of iced green tea.
See? Easy, balanced, and flexible!
Because my mornings are typically the busiest part of my day and my breakfast burrito is so filling, I easily feel full until lunchtime.
Frankly, the last thing I want to do is spend most of my lunch break preparing food. That’s why I always opt for easy-assembly meals for lunch.
Recently, my go-to lunch has been a yogurt bowl. My yogurt bowl looks different every day, which is great because it adds variety and keeps me from getting bored of the same meal.
The base however, is always Greek yogurt with high protein content. I aim to use a yogurt that packs a minimum of 10 grams of protein per serving so I can stay fuller longer, as well as support my muscles, bones, and metabolism.
I top my yogurt bowl with all kinds of good-for-you ingredients. Some of my favorites include:
- homemade granola: adds whole grains and texture
- raw cacao nibs: packs antioxidants + adds a bittersweet flavor
- blueberries: sweetens + adds color; they’re also rich in antioxidants and skin-loving nutrients!
- seeds (hemp, flax, chia): adds omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and texture
This bowl takes less than five minutes to put together, leaving me plenty of time to enjoy it and rest before heading back to my to-do list.
When I take the time to prepare balanced meals, I find myself feeling less hungry between lunch and dinner.
Still, for this dietitian, healthy snacks are another staple of what I eat in a day. If I need an energy boost or simply feel hungry, I’ll reach for:
- chopped cucumber with lemon + salt
- broccoli or carrots (roasted and meal-prepped in advance) with ranch dressing
- string cheese + wheat crackers
- seasonal fruit bowl
- protein bar
If I’m working out before dinner, I almost always prepare a protein shake.
Protein shakes are the perfect post-workout recovery meal because protein helps your muscles repair, build, and maintain their mass.
To keep things easy, balanced, and flexible, I toss in many of the same ingredients from my yogurt bowl into my blender, add protein powder and almond milk, and voila!
I like to make up for the greens that are lacking in my breakfast and lunch during dinner.
On most nights, I make a one-pan meal. I roast a colorful assortment of vegetables, my protein of choice, and serve it with a side of rice or potatoes.
Lately, my go-to assortment has been roasted chicken, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini, all served with a side of brown or white rice. I also make sure to use a variety of seasonings to enhance the flavor.
Once served, my plate typically consists of:
- 50 percent veggies
- 25 percent protein
- 20 percent carbohydrates
- 5 percent fat
In my kitchen, there’s always room for dessert!
Whether it’s freshly baked or store-bought goodies, I respect my sweet tooth by treating myself to a post-dinner treat. Not only does this empower me to feel freedom in my food choices, but it simply makes me happy.
My go-to sweet treats include:
- a slice of whole wheat toast topped with a chocolate hazelnut spread
- a handful of honey-roasted almonds
- a chocolate peanut butter cup (or two)
The Bottom Line
As you can see, I use my own mindful eating eating philosophy (easy, balanced, flexible) to guide all of my food choices throughout the day. I keep my kitchen stocked and ready to go with basics so that I can easily create balanced meals with flexible ingredients.
The result? I’m able to maintain my health and fitness goals without restriction—and more importantly, without having to sacrifice the foods I love!