We asked dieticians what they like to eat. Here's what they said

Firsthand from the experts: Here are some foods you should always have at home for a healthier lifestyle

 Healthy eating: Yoghurt with berries and granola (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Healthy eating: Yoghurt with berries and granola
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Dietitians are perceived as eating only what is right, and always in moderation. But they too, just like us, have cravings and snacks that they can’t give up. We asked three dietitians what their secret is to maintaining balance.

Dietitians are seen by most of us as a symbol of health: people who manage to make the right choices and don’t succumb to tempting junk food. But the truth is dietitians are very aware of the body's need for a balanced diet, yet they know that in order to do so they must be flexible and allow themselves to enjoy good meals, treats and cravings.

So how do they manage to maintain a balance within the sea of temptations? How do they eat healthily and even enjoy it? We asked three dietitians what they eat and here are their (surprising) answers.

Shani Arad, dietitian for Strauss

1. What foods can we always find in your home?

Olive oil, mini spelt pitas, chicken breasts, fortified milk, Activia yogurt, natural peanut butter, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, oatmeal and gummy bears.

2. What is the least healthy treat you must have on hand?

I will never give up gummy candies, even though in the nutrition books they’re definitely in last place. I always have these candies at home, which I don't eat on a daily basis, and when I do it’s a measured amount.

3. If you feel hungry in the middle of the day what do you snack on?

I eat three meals a day and most of the time I don’t snack. So if I get hungry in the middle of the day I don’t ignore it and instead of a simple snack, I prepare a small meal like a spelt mini pita with 5% cheese of any kind, lettuce and tomato or Activia yogurt with a sliced apple and a sprinkling of oatmeal.

4. What do you recommend to people who want a healthier and more balanced lifestyle?

Living healthy does not necessarily mean sprouting legumes, consuming superfoods or avoiding junk food but a mix of everything we eat. There are two points in the day when we can control what we eat: just before going to work and at dinner. In these two meals it’s important to combine nutritious food so that even if you’re not careful midday, you have anchors.

For me, for example, dinner will always contain: a portion of protein (fish, chicken breast, cheese, eggs or tofu), vitamins and minerals (fresh vegetables or fruits), unsaturated fat (olive oil, avocado, tahini) and a high-fiber carbohydrate portion (legumes, quinoa, wholewheat bread, oats, bulgur etc). And when you prefer to prepare a light and nutritious meal, my recommendation is for a smoothie that has it all: Activia yogurt, a tablespoon of oatmeal, a teaspoon of chia, a tablespoon of natural peanut butter or tahini, two lettuce leaves, half a banana, 10 blueberries, two strawberries and a date.

Karenann Gaiman, Clinical Dietitian

1. What foods can we always find in your home?

Oatmeal, yogurt, tofu or chicken breast,  fruits, vegetables (always bell pepper, cucumber, beet and carrot), a loaf of whole wheat bread, green peas, pumpkin seeds, Quaker peanut snacks and bottled water.

2. What is your favorite least healthy treat?

My treat is without a doubt chocolate yeast cake.

3. If you’re hungry midday, what’s your snack?

I always eat snacks. I eat many times a day because this is the pattern that suits me to maintain energy throughout the day and overall health.

My snacks can be yogurt, an Activia drink with oats, fruit or even oatmeal muffins that I make and keep in the freezer (I take one to work and it thaws on the way). On days when I'm hungrier, I'll usually opt for a mini vegetable or a bag of spiced crisps with half a cup of ricotta cheese.

4. What do you recommend for a healthier and more balanced lifestyle?

I highly recommend not running to trend diets, just eating weeds or looking for the most eccentric things there are like throwing everything away and switching to quinoa. I recommend looking more broadly at lifestyle - do we drink enough water? Eat enough complex carbohydrates? Getting enough sleep? You can even write it down on a page, make a list, and then circle all the things we think we want to change, and each time try to change two or three things, no more. Once these things stabilize, we need to check if it’s enough for us or if we have the mental strength to take on another challenge. The goal is not to change our entire lives and move from extreme to extreme, but to take what we do and improve it every once in a while. Small changes that are made gradually are ones that last for a long time.

Udi Barkan, dietitian and chef

1. Which foods do you always have at home?

Greek yogurt, milk or soy milk, olive oil (several kinds), vegetables, fruits, ice cream with nnuts, chocolate - at least 7 types - canned legumes, cheeses, tehina, honey, date honey and maple syrup.

2. What’s your go-to treat?

I don’t give up on ice cream, which I almost always eat with granola, raspberries and blueberries. The texture of the food is also very important to me, so sometimes I’ll combine Activia yogurt with the ice cream and granola, for the play of the textures and to mix in healthy ingredients.

3. If you’re hungry midday, what’s your favorite snack?

I eat a lot of small meals during the day, mostly fruits and vegetables. It’s not uncommon to see me walking down the street with carrots in hand.

4. What are your tips for those who want to adopt a healthier and more balanced lifestyle?

I think awareness and self-responsibility are the most important things. Don’t count calories and don’t go crazy, but get to know yourself and plan your agenda so that the food will also be part of it. For me, the most important tip is to increase the variety and supply of fruits and vegetables you keep at home. Once you eat more fruits and vegetables, there is less room for other things. It’s also important to exercise; I make sure to exercise almost every day, as it’s part of my awareness and personal responsibility. A tip that works for me: when you have a 20-minute phone call, get up and walk around while you talk.

This article was written in partnership with Activia.