Registered dietitians are often seen as the “food police,” but believe it or not, most dietitians actually do eat junk food from time to time. People are often afraid to share their diet history with dietitians for fear of being judged, but what they often don’t realize is that most dietitians enjoy junk food just as much as everyone else. Our taste buds aren’t any different; we crave sweets and salty snacks just as much as the next guy!
The key to enjoying these waistline-expanding, artery-clogging goodies is moderation. If we classify foods as “good” or “bad,” chances are we’ll crave those foods and overeat.
So, how often is in moderation? A good rule of thumb is to enjoy “healthy” foods 80 percent of the time, allowing for an occasional treat. It’s simple if you remember to incorporate the basic food groups at each meal:
- A serving of starch (think fist-sized)
- A piece of fruit (think tennis ball)
- A serving of vegetables (think fist-sized) for low-calorie sides or main dish bulk,
- A lean protein (think deck of cards), e.g. egg whites, low-fat dairy, grilled, baked or broiled meat, poultry or fish, and
- Choose calorie-free beverages (except low-fat milk). It’s best to eat, not drink our calories.
Although food is meant to be enjoyed, our bodies are powered by and build new cells based on the foods we choose to eat. So choose nutritious fuel at least 80 percent of the time to promote a long and healthy life.
Kelly Roehl, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical dietitian at Rush University Medical Center.