If you want to be your best, you have to learn from the best, and that’s particularly true when you’re on a path to better health. The experts you should be learning from? Registered dietitians, who have years of medical training and even more years of personal experience with healthy diets.
The only thing that may be in your way is that not everyone knows a diet expert who they can ask to reveal the secrets of their healthy diets. But we do! We know a ton of them. And we asked them which foods are part of their daily diets, all so we could share it with our oh-so-curious readers. (That’s you!)
Scroll down to check out exactly what shows up on the pros’ plates day after day, and use it as inspiration to shake up your own healthy eating plan. Not only can adding some new healthy foods to your repertoire ward off taste bud fatigue, it can actually accelerate your weight loss wins. (Food diversity improves metabolism by challenging the gastrointestinal system.) There’s no better (or delicious) way to help the pounds melt away! Read on, and for more on healthy eating, don’t miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
“I never feel satisfied from a meal without a good piece of bread. It helps balance out my meal of veggies and protein and gives me just enough energy to get through to my next meal. I also rely on whole grains, like whole-wheat bread, for extra dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins.” — Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group
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“I eat cereal for breakfast almost every morning. It’s one of my favorite foods and it’s fast and requires little clean-up. Cereal gets a bad rap because of the carbohydrates, and alone it doesn’t provide enough protein for breakfast. But I choose the whole-grain varieties, add milk and top with sliced fruit for more fiber and protein. Many cereals are also nutrient-fortified, so I get 90 percent of my daily iron recommendation, 100 percent of my daily folate, and 30 percent of the recommended daily vitamin D in a single serving.” — Torey Armul, RD
Whatever you do, be sure to stay away from The Worst Cereal You Should Never Eat, According to a Nutritionist!
“I’m a huge fan of dates and I eat them daily as either a pre-workout snack, a quick grab-n-go snack, or a mid-workout snack if I’m exercising for more than 90 minutes. Dates are high in fiber and potassium, a mineral that aids muscles contract and helps regulate our bodies’ fluids. That’s why it’s a fantastic food for sports nutrition. And if you have a sweet tooth, eating a date or two will surely satisfy that desire.” — Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of “Brain Food”
“I know there’s not much to them and many say they are filled with air, but sometimes I just need a crunch and don’t want to ruin my diet with high-calorie cracker snacks. Plus, rice cakes are great vehicles for healthy foods like peanut butter, lean deli meat, and hummus.” — Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios
“I’ve eaten an apple every day since high school. Typically, I have it with breakfast; it’s the perfect sweet crunch in the morning. Plus, it’s a great way to get healthy, energy-revving carbs and a boost of fiber to keep my blood sugar level stable so I don’t come crashing down. Not to mention, since apples are packed with heart-healthy flavonoids like quercetin, when I eat one a day I really feel like I’m helping to keep the doctor away!” —Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, author of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure
For even more healthy morning meals, check out these 30 Nutritionist-Approved Healthy Breakfast Ideas!
“Inevitably, avocado ends up in one of my meals or snacks during the day. I typically bring in a whole avocado to work and make myself various avocado spreads as a snack. Recently, I’ve started to mash or blend it with a banana to make a little avocado pudding! My son and I both really enjoy it! —Stephanie Middleberg, RD, founder of Middleberg Nutrition
“Whether it’s pre-hard boiled for a quick breakfast or a last minute go-to dinner I can make in minutes, I love how simple, yet satisfying eggs can be. They offer an excellent quality protein source, plus preserving the yolk means extra iron, hair-strengthening biotin, vitamin D, and energizing B vitamins. — Moskovitz
“Pretty much every day I find myself eating whole eggs. No egg whites for this dietitian! Whether it’s having eggs with avocado for a filling breakfast packed with protein and healthy fats, bringing in hardboiled eggs for a snack at work, or having a frittata as part of my weekly ‘breakfast for dinner’ rotation, this food never fails to find its way into my daily routine.” —Kristen Carlucci Haase RD-N
“I eat red bell peppers nearly every day. One medium pepper actually contains more vitamin C than an orange, and the vegetable is extremely versatile. I throw them into salads, dip them in hummus, and add them to Italian dishes that I make at home.” —Lori Zanini, RD, CDE
“One of my daily treats—and I say that without an ounce of irony—is a nice tossed salad! I typically eat one with dinner made with romaine lettuce, sliced cucumber, and tomato. There are times I expand on those core ingredients by using two or even three different types of lettuce and sometimes I’ll also add some sliced olives. Right now, my garden is full of beautiful basil, so I will chiffonade some leaves and add that in, too. For some additional flavor and some healthy fats, I toss it with some extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and sometimes, a few shakes of dried oregano. —Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND
“While olive oil is my primary cooking fat, I use small amounts of grass-fed, pasture butter nearly every day. A little bit goes a long way and let’s be honest, a touch of butter on veggies, toast or fish can make all the difference in terms of flavor!” —Katie Cavuto MS, RD, Chef
“After looking through my food diary, it’s clear there isn’t a food I eat every day, but Brazil nuts are definitely a primary staple in my diet. Research shows that just two per day can help boost selenium, an antioxidant that helps to cleanse the liver.” —Miriam Jacobson, RD, CDN
“I usually come home pretty hungry from work, but dinner might not be for a few more hours. What I’ve found to be my secret to staying on track is to always have healthy snacks ready and prepared to have while I’m prepping dinner. My favorite is hummus with a healthy dipper. I love carrots, bell peppers, and whole-grain crackers.” — Carlucci
“Whether I eat plain Greek yogurt for my morning breakfast topped with some fresh fruit, cereal, and chia seeds or have it as my afternoon snack in a smoothie, I love it. Not only does Greek yogurt have protein, calcium, and vitamin D, it’s also extremely filling and satisfying. I even use it in many of my sauces and dips as a substitute for sour cream because of the natural protein content and thick, creamy consistency.” — Koszyk
“Every morning I have a shot of Firecider, which is an apple cider vinegar beverage with turmeric, ginger, and garlic and very afternoon I have matcha, a powdered green tea.” —Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Thin
“I bite into a chocolate bar every day after lunch. I wish I could eat chocolate in the evening too, but I don’t make a decaffeinated chocolate bar yet. My family has a history of heart disease and research shows that certain types of chocolate can protect my precious ticker. It takes about 200 milligrams of flavanols to improve blood flow and really reap the heart-health benefits. That’s what you’d find in 2 tablespoons of non-alkalized cocoa powder (which tastes great in yogurt, smoothies, and chili) or 1.75 ounces of 70 to 85 percent of cacao dark chocolate. To reach the heart health benefits, but keep calories in check, I like to add one tablespoon to morning oatmeal and have 150 calories worth of dark chocolate after lunch.” —Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD
“I honestly can’t remember the last day that I didn’t have chocolate! I love something sweet after lunch or dinner, so I opt for 1 or 2 squares of dark chocolate, a small handful of dark chocolate chips or a light Fudgesicle. Storing your chocolate in the freezer keeps it out of sight and helps slow you down, so you savor it a little more.” —Armul
Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Chocolate
“Every morning I wake up with a few cups of coffee flavored with a scant teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of half and half. Not only do I enjoy the taste, I drink it knowing that moderate coffee drinkers experience less diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.” —Palumbo
For more, see these 14 Side Effects of Drinking Coffee Every Day, According to Dietitians
“While nuts are dense in calories, they’re also dense in nutrients. Plus, just 150 to 200 calories worth of nut butter can keep me content for hours thanks to the healthy monounsaturated fats. In addition, studies have shown that a small serving (just a 1- to 1.5-ounce portion) of nuts per day can help eat less and control their weight. Nuts are also filled with a variety of other nutrients that have been shown to reduce blood pressure, aid heart health, and decrease the effects of metabolic syndrome. Nuts and individual packets of nut butter are my go-to travel snack when I need a healthy shot of sustainable energy.” —McDaniel
If you like the classics, take a gander at The 20 Top Peanut Butters—Ranked!