Nobody’s perfect and no one can be expected to eat perfectly 100% of the time. But I truly believe that nutritionists and dietitians should lead by example and eat in a nutritious manner most of the time. After all, how can we expect others and more specifically our clients to follow our suggestions if we don’t practise what we preach? You know that old saying ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’ well I’m not so sure it should be the case in this situation. In my humble opinion, when it comes to being a role model and advocating for a wholesome non-diet approach to healthy eating and healthy living, nutritionists and dietitians need to lead by example and walk the talk.
What does this mean? Well it certainly doesn’t mean that we never eat cake or ice cream or heaven forbid sit on a beach with the sand between our toes and enjoy piping hot fish & chips fresh out of bag. After all, where’s the fun it that?! Life is for living after all, but as boring as it may sound, it’s finding that balance between enjoying nutritious foods most of time so we can lead a happy and fulfilled life to a ripe-old age with plenty of good health under our belt. But for me, that also means enjoying treat foods or foods that I absolutely adore (whether they contain nutrients or not) every so often too. The thought of a couple of squares of dark chocolate after dinner inspires an almost joyful euphoria and because I allow myself a couple of squares whenever I like, I never crave more than that because I know I can have it at any stage.
Considering my love of dark chocolate, what I eat most of the time goes a bit like this…
Plenty of colourful vegetables throughout the week but always a serving or two at lunch or dinner (but if one day I just have a pesto & cheese sandwich for lunch it’s not a big deal either!)
Daily healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, pesto & hummus. I would have a small serve of healthy fats with each meal. I’m pretty much nut-obsessed, I love them.
A serving of protein food such as free-range chicken, beef, lamb, pork, seafood, salmon, eggs or even legumes such as chickpeas or lentils at each of my main meals (except if I have a smoothie or porridge for breakfast and then I would get my protein from the addition of yoghurt and nuts)
Wholesome dairy foods such as Greek yoghurt, cheese and milk most days. Just a small amount such as couple of slices of cheese as part of a snack or a dollop of yoghurt over my porridge. Yum.
Energy providing carbohydrate foods, preferably wholegrains such as buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, starchy vegetables or dense, high-fibre bread. However, I would only have two slices of bread per day and not every day as I like variety in this food group and love my rice and kumara more I think! I would most often have a small serve of these foods at breakfast, lunch and dinner unless I feel like something much lighter such as a salad with lean meat and vegetables for example because sometimes that's all you feel like.
Plenty of fluid, mostly water and sometimes tea & coffee but I couldn’t have more than one coffee per day – it would make me too wired and I would never sleep! Learn to listen to your own body and how it responds to certain foods.
But, do I eat things like…
Cake – absolutely! I love baking. Most of the time I would make it myself at home from scratch using nutrient dense ingredients but I’d also enjoy a piece of cake or a gooey chocolate fondant pudding for dessert if I’m dining out and really feel like something sweet. Oh or Crème brûlée.
Chocolate – yes! Perhaps a couple of squares every few days after dinner (always at least 70%).
Ice cream – not so often but I can tell you I’m definitely looking forward to enjoying a fresh fruit ice cream come Summer time!
Wine – yes no doubt about it, especially living on a vineyard in Marlborough! However, I’m not a huge drinker and would only have a few glasses a week– more white wine in Summer with fresh seafood and Pinot Noir in Winter with slow cooked beef or lamb. After all, a stunning wine and seasonal dishes are like two peas in a pod aren’t they?!
Potato chips – I normally leave these for the hubby but I love Proper crisps if I do have chips!
For those that like pictures, a typical day might go like this…
Breakast: A smoothie or a bowl or chia rice porridge with fruit and nuts or sometimes eggs & greens on toast...
Snack: Yoghurt mixed with nuts & berries or simply some fruit
Lunch: Normally leftovers like this bowl of leftover brown rice with greens and chicken or colourful vegetables with lentils from a local deli if I'm out...
Snack: If I'm hungry, I might have a herbal tea and some cheese & wholesome crackers or some stuffed peanut butter stuffed Medjool dates
Dinner: This varies from homemade burgers to salads, stir-fries or fresh seafood served with plenty of vegetables. Here is my homemade Beef & Rosemary Burger which we normally serve with kale chips or roasted kumara chips if we are super hungry!
Dessert: Normally a homemade treat such as this Jelly Tip Mini Cheesecake or a couple of squares of dark chocolate
I try and eat wholesome foods every day and most of the time because I love how they taste, I like how they make me feel and I enjoy cooking and making fresh, healthy seasonal food from scratch. But I also sometimes enjoy foods that don’t contain any nutrients but that make me truly happy in other ways and I’m totally okay with that. Imagine visiting Italy without tasting a gelato or being in France without gooey cheese or strolling the streets of Thailand without a plate of sugary sticky rice? Eating this way teaches you how moderation can be enjoyed within a healthy way of life and how you can still be a wholesome human with a few squares of chocolate (or a slice of cake) on the side.
So if you see a nutritionist or a dietitian at the beach with a rolled ice cream in hand and wonder why they are eating such nutrient devoid creamy goodness, then let them be and don’t judge. Know that they have probably eaten wholesome foods for the days/weeks leading up to that ice cream (because those are the kinds of foods they truly enjoy eating!) but they also enjoy ice cream every now and again just as much as the next person. But what they may not do is eat ice cream every single day! Well, this is my thought on the matter anyway.