Lunchtime and snack time in the hospital for a registered dietitian is always a challenge, as everyone around stares to see what we will choose to eat.
Just the other day, another fellow dietitian and I were cruising down the snack aisle of a food shop when someone made a comment about the chips we had chosen for a snack being “unhealthy… especially for a dietitian.”
It got me thinking — as difficult as it already is to eat a healthy diet, it is particularly difficult when I am expected to “know better.” I always find myself explaining to people that I balance my caloric intake with increased physical activities, and that every food can fit into a healthful diet. If you are willing to work off the extra calories from that bag of chips, then you can have that bag of chips.
I certainly do not follow the most healthful diet, though I do make an effort whenever I can. I am constantly working on increasing my fruit and vegetable intake to be sure that I get the antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals that our bodies need.
Unfortunately, I do not naturally reach for that fruit when there are other options around. One tip that has helped me is to always have fresh fruit and vegetables available in my house, and minimal snack foods. Try to satisfy your sweet tooth with a piece of fruit instead of a dessert. Maybe you crave savory foods — have a fresh salad with a light vinaigrette dressing instead of chips.
Even if you choose a healthier option every other time you snack, you are decreasing your overall caloric intake and increasing your intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber for overall better health. Remember, it is all about balance.
Yimin Chen, MS RD LDN CNSC, is a nutrition support dietitian who works in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Rush University Medical Center.