Do Dietitians Really Just Eat Salad?

5 Things You May Not Know About Us

It always fascinates me how people feel obligated to comment on what I’m eating. As a dietitian, I understand that I’m modeling healthy behaviors. But I also understand variety and moderation, and judging me by one meal out of the roughly 99,000 meals I’ll eat over a lifetime is a little harsh. So I want to give a little insight into the lifestyle of a dietitian. Maybe you’ll find some healthy habits to embrace, and maybe you’ll allow yourself a little extra leeway.

  1. Dietitians don’t just eat salad. Don’t get me wrong, we do eat salad, but we enjoy it alongside a variety of other foods. And our salads usually end up being colorful works of art; blends of leafy greens, fresh veggies or fruits, and lean proteins like cheese, eggs or chicken. We even use dressing – but to enhance the flavors instead of drowning them. We enjoy lots of different types of food to get all the nutrients we need.
  2. Dietitians do eat three meals a day. When mom said, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” she wasn’t kidding. Starting your day off with a healthy blend of carbohydrates and protein is one of the healthiest things you can do. Many people attempt to lose weight by skipping breakfast, but that strategy often backfires with an out-of-control appetite later in the day. I always start my day with something – even if I’m pressed for time. A quick smoothie of frozen fruit blended with fat free milk is a great, on-the-go breakfast that takes about a minute and a half to prepare.
  3. Dietitians enjoy ALL foods. There are no bad foods, just bad diets. The choices we make over time are what affect our health, not the dessert we enjoy on a special occasion. We can savor the rich chocolate melting in our mouths. We can lose ourselves in a piece of cake. We have even been known to have an ice cream sundae as a meal on occasion. But the key is moderation. We follow a 90/10 rule. Eat “good” foods – the foods you think of as healthy – 90% of the time. Use the other 10% for the special treats that make life worth living.
  4. Dietitians play with their food. Because we take the whole “food is my life” thing way too seriously, dietitians tend to be open minded about new tastes and textures, which leads to exciting new discoveries. Like the day my friend served me a grilled cheese sandwich with three kinds of cheese and raspberry jam. Not the sort of thing usually paired together, but it was extraordinary. Open your mind to new things and you might just discover some new favorites.
  5. Dietitians do things that have nothing to do with food. We have lives like anyone else. It’s just that our profession is a little harder to escape because food permeates all areas of everyone’s life. But while I’m always thinking of food and how to make healthy choices, I also want to go watch my kids’ sporting events, or take in a movie, or read a book. Like tonight for example, I’m using my slow cooker to make chili tonight so I can go outside and enjoy our unseasonably nice weather. And maybe think about what I’ll cook tomorrow.
By Tiffany Hull, MS, RD, LD

Tiffany Hull is the dietetic internship director for the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma. She has worked as a clinical and outpatient dietitian at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City for 18 years, and serves as the state media representative for the Oklahoma Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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