My Top Ten

by Dave on August 22, 2009

by Lisa Harkins, RD

Many of my clients ask me, “What do YOU eat?” When I am with a client, it’s not about me, it’s all about them. If the conversation turns to me and what I eat, I tend to turn it subtly back to the individual I am counseling. My philosophy is this: they are paying me to help them with their nutrition goals, not to listen to me prattle on about how great my diet is.

But I do know many people are curious about what nutritionists eat. Are we “good” all the time? Do we only eat fruits and vegetables, never splurging on fries or pizza or a cold beer? I am here to tell you no, we are not “good” all the time, no, we don’t always eat our fruits and veggies, and yes, we do sometimes eat the pizza and fries, and drink the occasional beer. But we do know more than most about food, and saying that, I am more cognizant about what I put in my mouth (and how it will affect my hips and heart!). And let’s face it, I better practice what I preach! So here is my top ten; my own personal guidelines I follow to stay healthy and fit:

1. No high-fructose corn syrup. I know research shows plain sugar raises blood glucose levels in the same manner as HFCS , but I just think HFCS is in EVERYTHING, and it doesn’t have to be. This ingredient has made all of us like and expect sweet, and adds calories we don’t need to our daily diet.
2. No trans-fats/hydrogenated oils. Research unequivocally shows this stuff is bad for us. I don’t buy anything with this ingredient. Period.
3. I watch my sodium intake: eg., no canned soups, processed meats, sauces or rice or noodle mixes.
4. I rarely eat cheese. I know this is hard for many, but full-fat cheese IS really fattening. And you can get your calcium from a supplement or skim milk or low-fat yogurt (even tofu and broccoli contain some calcium). And forget full-fat mayo!
5. My snacks are good for me. I know bor-ing. But I eat a lot of fruit, raw veggies with low-fat dressing, nuts (in moderation) and Kashi bars in between meals.
6. I rarely eat sweets. I do “splurge” on the occasional dessert out, but I figure, I work really hard at exercising and eating right, why is my “reward” a 600 calorie treat? (Now new shoes…that is a reward!).
7. I eat breakfast every day-and it’s about 400 calories. I am rarely hungry at night and have energy all day.
8. I drink plenty of water. Six to eight 8 ounce glasses per day, more around workouts.
9. I work out 4-5 times per week, which includes at least 30-60 minutes of cardio per session.
10. I give in to cravings. Case in point: Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets yesterday driving home from Wilmington. Came out of a nowhere, had to have them. So I did. And then I ran 4 miles this morning!

Lisa Harkins is a clinical registered dietitian with Bayhealth Medical Centers and the owner of Ideal Nutrition and Fitness LLC ( You can reach her at lisa –at–

*LDN stands for Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist, and this credential means that ONLY RDs can call themselves nutritionists in the state of Delaware effective June 21, 2009!

This column first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, July 16, 2009.

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