Deborah Gerszberg, RD, CNSC, CDN
Clinical Nutritionist, The Pancreas Center
I am always asking my patients to tell me, in great detail, exactly what they eat on a typical day. Recently, I have had several patients inquire about my own eating habits. So I decided that for once, I would turn the tables around and share with you, in great detail, exactly what I eat on a typical day. If you are a patient of mine (or if you have ever tried to explain to a dietitian what you eat on a “typical day”) you probably realize no two days are alike.
A balanced, plant based diet is best for overall health, including prevention of cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. I do try to practice what I preach, and eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables with limited added sugars; yet I too still enjoy a sweet treat and must enforce portion control for myself. See for yourself!
Deb’s Diet Recall:
Oatmeal can be the base for a very healthy breakfast, whether you need to lose or gain weight. I tell my patients who need to gain weight to add granola, organic pastured butter, whey protein powder, coconut flakes, dried fruit, and nuts or nut butters to their oatmeal. Oatmeal is very filling and satisfying due to its high fiber content.
I combine the following in a bowl and microwave on medium heat for 5 minutes:
- 1/3 cup uncooked whole rolled oats
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 small banana
- 1/3 cup frozen organic blueberries
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ~2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1-2 drops vanilla extract
Nutrition breakdown: 277 calories, 50 g carbohydrate, 8 g pro, 5 g fat, 12 g fiber
If I am home, I will also sometimes have 2-3 egg whites or 1 whole egg cooked in 1 tsp olive oil or fresh green juice (3 portions -6 oz each- are made with 3-4 kale leaves, ½ large cucumber, 4-5 celery stalks, 1 pear, 1” ginger cube peeled, and either 1 red apple or ¼ of a pineapple).
Greek yogurt is a favorite snack for me to recommend, and to eat! It is a good source of protein and calcium, and will hold you over until your next meal. If you need to gain weight, yogurt (like oatmeal) is a great medium to add nuts, granola, and dried fruit to in order to increase the calorie content.
I combine the first four ingredients, then mix in the strawberries, and sprinkle the multi grain O’s on top.
- ½ cup fat free yogurt
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 drops vanilla extract
- ½ tsp organic agave syrup
- ½ cup chopped organic strawberries
- ½ cup multi grain O’s
Nutrition breakdown: 204 calories, 28 g carbohydrate, 14 g pro, 4 g fat, 4 g fiber
I like to sweeten my own yogurt when I’m at home with fruit and a drop of maple syrup, agave syrup, or honey. Sweetening the yogurt myself provides much less sugar than pre-sweetened yogurts, which usually have 3-4 times more added sugar. Agave has been debated to be healthier since it is lower on the glycemic index; however it is controversial as it is processed and made of almost all fructose. The bottom line is whether you sweeten with brown or white sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave, use portion control. All of these are added sugars, which should be limited as excess dietary sugars can contribute to obesity, high triglyceride levels, and tooth decay. That’s in addition to displacing calories from foods which do provide health benefits. To save time when packing my lunch for work, I will still just use a pre-sweetened fruit flavored yogurt. (I tried to warn you, I’m not perfect!)
I usually have a tuna salad sandwich or veggie bologna (Smart Deli is my favorite) and avocado sandwich with red onion and Dijon mustard. I use a bread machine to make fresh 100% whole wheat bread each week. I will give you my tuna salad recipe, since everyone who tries it always requests it! If you don’t like tuna, leftover chicken can be used in its place.
- 1 large slice whole wheat bread, toasted (about 1.5-2 oz)
- 3 oz chunk light tuna fish, canned in water, drained well
- 1 tbsp light mayonnaise
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp chopped sauerkraut
- 1 tbsp chopped red onion
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- Spices: dash of curry, cumin, paprika, turmeric, freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup grapes, quartered
- 1/2 cup baby arugula
Combine tuna with mayo, mustard, sauerkraut, onion, parsley, and spices. Mix until well combined. Mix in grapes last, and serve open faced, on top of toast. Place arugula leaves on top.
With my lunch, I also have some fruit (organic apple or ½ cup frozen cubed mango), veggies (1/2 bell pepper and 1 large carrot), and hummus (2 tbsp).
Nutrition Breakdown: 592 calories, 89 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein, 12 g fat, 15 g fiber
I usually have a piece of fruit (Nectarine or pear) and 2 small squares of dark chocolate (or if I’m at work, 5-6 peanut M & M’s), and ½ energy bar (my favorites are KIND and Clif Builder’s bar).
Nutrition Breakdown: 210 calories, 23 g carbohydrate, 7 g protein, 10 g fat, 4 g fiber
Dinner almost always consists of a very, very, very large salad, with either pasta or vegetarian bean quesadillas or wild salmon, roasted broccoli, and butternut squash. To keep things simple, I’ll give you my very easy pasta recipe. It’s easy to prepare quickly and reheats well the next day.
Salad (makes 2 large salads) – combine all ingredients below, toss, and serve!
- 10 cups organic romaine/arugula mixture, chopped
- ½ organic cucumber,
- ½ organic bell pepper, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
- 10 grape tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ red onion, diced
- ½ avocado, cubed
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ¼ cup parsley or basil, chopped
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup roasted beets or ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 2 tsp Za’atar (a delicious middle eastern spice blend)
- 1-2 tsp turmeric
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp homemade balsamic dressing (made with olive oil, balsamic salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, and crushed garlic)
- 1 pound whole wheat penne or fusilli pasta, cooked al dente and drained
- 1 jar Barilla tomato and basil marinara sauce
- 8-10 oz (half a bag) of defrosted and drained frozen organic chopped spinach
- 1% Friendship whipped cottage cheese (this is creamier like Ricotta cheese, but healthier)
- 1 tbsp garlic powder (or less, to taste)
Mix the sauce, spinach, and garlic powder into the pasta. Measure 1 cup per serving and add 1/3 cup cottage cheese to each serving and mix to combine. I like to heat this in the microwave for 30-60 seconds to melt the cheese.
Of course dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert. I usually have ½ oz of dark chocolate and a serving of fruit with herbal tea.
Nutrition breakdown: 696 calories, 90 g carbohydrate, 30 g protein, 24 g fat, 26 g fiber
My total nutrient breakdown for an average day is: 1979 calories, 280 g carbohydrate (57%), 91 g protein (18%), 55 g fat (25%), and 61 g fiber. Given my current physical activity level, age, weight, and health, I am relieved to say that my diet is adequate (phew!). Take note that my diet contains twice the amount of fiber that is the minimum recommended (25-30 g per day). If you have constipation, you should eat whole grains and more fruits and vegetables for a higher fiber diet, which should help keep you regular, along with exercise and good hydration. I drink about 2 liters of water (8 glasses 8 oz each) per day. You may need more or less depending on your age, weight, and medical conditions.
For optimal health, experts agree that a plant-based diet is best. Try eating nutrient rich vegetables with both lunch and dinner, have fruits for a snack with either cheese, nuts, or yogurt to keep you feeling satisfied, choose whole grains over white refined grains, and use portion control when eating sweets.